The I word

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do

-John Wooden

The other day, I was reading an article my friend posted on Facebook written by someone who is disabled and how she feels regarding the I word. (inspiring or inspirational) Throughout the piece, she explained how it bothers her to hear the I word used all the time towards her and it is almost demoralizing at times.
After reading this piece, I had mixed emotions. Not to sound ungrateful but I can totally relate to her frustration. One thing the author said that stuck with me is how she is trying to get through life like everyone else and has no intention of being inspirational but she is. There are definitely times when I get tired of being seen as inspirational and only for my disabilities. I’d like to be seen for more than just being disabled and that’s why I constantly show people my abilities and what I’m truly capable of.
But something I’ve come to realize with time is that by trying to not be inspirational and hide my disabilities, I’m denying who I am. Being inspirational is my responsibility, my job, it is part of me. There are days when hearing the I word is overwhelming and I’m not sure what to say besides “thank you” while smiling sweetly. But at the same time, it is humbling and fulfilling to know that I inspire someone and that I am able to help them through a difficult situation in their lives just by being me!
On Friday of this past weekend, I attended a Relay for Life event as a cancer survivor and on Sunday evening, spoke to a parish group. Both were wonderful events and extremely emotional. Every now and then, we all need a reminder that were special.
Relay for Life is an fantastic event that benefits the American Cancer Society and is something I became involved with in college. One of the most important aspects of Relay is to highlight the survivors with them by kicking off the event with the opening lap for survivors and having a reception afterwards. Something I personally struggle with about being a cancer survivor is “survivor guilt” and wondering why I survived when so many haven’t. My guilt tends to make me feel not very inspirational. Events like Relay for Life though remind me that I have a purpose and that as a survivor, it’s my duty to carry on behalf of those who aren’t able to.  Then on Sunday, sharing my story, my faith, and how blessed I am is always an incredible experience.  The responses I hear afterwards, the people I meet, and am able to inspire; it brings me so much joy, happiness, and a feeling of fulfillment.
I remember one time after speaking, someone came up and told me about his daughter who recently passed away from brain cancer. As he heard my story of surviving brain cancer and becoming disabled as a result, he thought of her and how at that moment, I brought her back to him. I probably looked like an idiot just staring at him with complete shock on my face, not knowing what to say but talk about an awesome response! I had no intention of doing that. God works through me in the craziest ways!
The I word is something I get tired of hearing every now and then and at times wish I was seen for more than being inspiring. But as egotistical as it sounds, being inspirational and spreading hope through my story is my job, my purpose, and my responsibility. By hiding my disabilities and pretending the I word doesn’t exist, I’m ignoring my true potential or purpose in life. So how are you keeping yourself from achieving your full potential?
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be
-Maya Angelou

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Filed under Being disabled, Life in general, My faith

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