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  • Writer's pictureKyrby Brown

"Inspiration" - Compliment or Insult?

“You’re such an inspiration” - a common line from the mouths of well-meaning abled bodied individuals everywhere…

Image shows me on my running frame completing 12.5km for Superhero Series Triathlon 2022.

Some of you will be rolling your eyes already, but please hear me out.

I used to absolutely hate the word, I couldn’t understand why anyone would look at my ordinary life and see something worth gushing about. After all I had never known any different, I have always been just me.

Honestly, it’s not ok to approach a person with disabilities or other challenges and tell them that their very existence in society inspires you - that’s ridiculous! Just think about that for a moment, you’re telling me that you find my getting up in the morning, brushing my teeth, washing my hair and rolling through the front door inspiring? That’s a pretty low bar and there’s a few reasons someone might find that offensive.

For one it’s patronising, it’s you assuming that my life is difficult therefore just ‘being’ is an achievement. Trust me, I don’t deserve a medal for dragging my but out of bed each morning - even if sometimes (like everyone) I really think I do!

For another it’s based on the premise that people with disabilities are something to be appraised or examined, that we can’t be just as mean, uncivil and callous as the next person. News flash - there are some people with disabilities who intentionally achieve very little in their lives - they keep to themselves and that’s how they like it - after all they’re just people, the good and the bad.

However, I’m beginning to see that to ‘inspire’ is not too far away from to ‘empower’, and I’m all about empowerment. For example, I have had people say that you inspired me to seize this ‘opportunity’. What they are really saying is that they saw me ‘go and get it’ and they realised they also have the power to ‘go and get it’, this I can get behind.

I started this blog to demonstrate that mindset matters above all else, if someone’s reading this and finds themselves ‘inspired’ to make a move then I’m very much in support of that.

So maybe what we really need to do is change the context, rather than being ‘inspired’ by a persons ability to live with a challenge we should be ‘empowered’ by that persons willingness to face a challenge. Rather than inspiring emotion I want to inspire action. Too often I hear people say they would like to one day (insert desired experience) - what are you waiting for?

Hopefully you’re not waiting someone else to come and make it easy for you or push you into it? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we all need a little shove in the right direction, particularly in those ‘down’ moments, but it’s not healthy to rely on external experiences to move you to change. Nothing worth having is going to fall in your lap, climb through your window or kidnap you in the night!

The message here is that you hold the power in your life and if sometimes a little outside inspiration spurs you on that’s ok. What’s not ok is make that change or book that trip because of anyone else. You live your life for you and you’ll soon start finding that there’s more out there for that you can possibly fit into a lifetime - but you sure can try.

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