I hit a severe case of writers block this week – something that happens on a fairly regular basis – but two other blog posts have made me question yet again my ideas about being an inspiration. Am I inspirational because I happen to be blind and married and employed? Or is it because I have fought despair, unemployment, family members’ illness, fractious family dynamics, or others’ perceptions of my capabilities? I suppose the difference is that you would know the former about me either on sight or within two minutes of talking to me; the latter takes a lot longer to drag out.
I think the difference is in the perpetuation and the audience of whoever is making the “you’re so inspirational!” comments. Sure, it’s frustrating to have to explain to a stranger that it is not a Herculean effort to put on a coordinated outfit in the morning, but it is a way to show one person that we are, above all, human. We are neither so beaten down by life nor an embodiment of Daredevil, and we can explain this; hopefully that one person will be able to take that with them through life and correct others’ perceptions (“I once met a blind person, and she was witty/sarcastic/having a bad day/smiling… just, well, normal!”). Unfortunately, if a blind person is in the media, it is for one of two reasons: something bad happened to them (being denied service because of a guide dog, falling off an LRT platform), or they are “overcoming insurmountable odds” to open a restaurant, sing the national anthem at a ball game, or becoming a state’s first Supreme Court judge.. Perhaps because of this, the perceptions of our accomplishments and our setbacks are magnified by the mere reach of such pieces, thanks to social media and the Internet.
My friend Meagan wrote a terrific blog post about the media perception, generally with grace and compassion and an even hand. However, I have read tweets and facebook posts about how the media just doesn’t get it, is patronizing; perhaps I have even made them myself. But on the personal inspirational front, a recent blog post by a friend of a friend of a friend made me rethink my own thoughts about being inspirational. Maybe I am inspirational because I am human, because I push and struggle and triumph, just like everyone else. So if I AM inspirational, just remember, that so are you, and so is everyone else.