Inspiration Conspiracy

“You inspire me.” Next time these words are poised to roll off your tongue, I urge you to bite it. I’ve bloomed from child to teen and teen to adult on the receiving end of such commentary, and let me tell you, it doesn’t feel as uplifting as one might think. Much to the contrary, being held as a totem of inspiration sings a demoralizing tune which makes me feel spat upon.

Here’s why: reducing me to an amalgamation of undesirable circumstances that you’d rather not experience yourself, does not brand me a hero. Surviving catastrophe after calamity has not gifted me enlightenment, so please don’t expect me to spew pearls of insight. No matter how well-intentioned, these three words echo only the sentiment that you are glad not to be me. Though I can’t fault you for finding appreciation to belong to your body instead of mine, how might you think admitting to such might make me feel? Additionally, my life is not about inspiring others. A desire to live a robust, healthy life does not warrant adoration. Serving as a target of said adoration does nothing to staunch or justify the inhumane task of being chronically debilitated, nor should it. 

The barrage of inspirational insults hurled at marginalized groups, from those with disabilities to racial and sexual minorities, preclude meaningful conversation. By inhibiting individuals to voice their own stories, we underestimate the capacity of injustice. Silencing the unsavory truths of others only bolsters the current state of societal tapestry that induces such travesties in the first place.
Feeling inadequately equipped to process profound pain and nosedives toward death is understandable. Converting my torment into your gain, however, is not. A bandaid for the ego does nothing to soothe my boiling insides, it only reinforces your privilege while disregarding my identity as anything but that poor, disabled girl.

12 thoughts on “Inspiration Conspiracy”

  1. Exceptionally well written post. You have a perspective I’ve never considered. I’ve always thought it best to recognize a person’s kind intent when receiving a compliment, but I suppose I can see how one might be offended if the meaning of the giver’s gesture isn’t clear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The delivery in which the words are directed toward me makes a big difference in how I interpret the meaning. Very often, people whine the words and interject pitiful sounds, so I know that the authenticity that could be behind the sentiment isn’t there.

      Thanks again for your feedback!


  2. I can relate to this post. In my youth, I survived a road accident that left me with a permanent disability. Those around me described me as ‘brave’ etc. I really didn’t know what to do with those comments. My theory is they come from a place of discomfort. A way of closing down conversation. Avoiding awkward discussion about the feelings of loss, anger, distress and so that follow a traumatic incident. Bravo to you and congratulations on a great piece of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete, thank you very much for sharing a little bit of your own experiences with me. I agree that people often toss out clichés in uncomfortable situations when they don’t know what to say. I often encourage people to say nothing if necessary, just listen and affirm. I appreciate your support!

      Liked by 1 person

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