“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.
Feeling inadequately equipped to process profound pain is understandable. Converting my torment into your gain, however, is not. A band-aid 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.
Writer, survivor, CSUC Sociology alumni, Briana Beaver is making a comeback, one word at a time. Her multimedia is available at selected shops in Northern California and on Etsy.