When I started this site about six months ago, my goal was to talk about my life experiences. I try hard to ensure that all of my blog posts are open and honest, but also free from negativity.
My intention when I write my articles (especially the more personal ones) is NOT to garner sympathy but to provoke thought and start a dialogue about disability in a way that is rarely discussed. My hope is to try to normalize disability and breakdown some of the stigmas and biases associated with it.
Since I started Ling, one of the things I've realized about myself is that I hate being called 'inspirational.' I understand that it is well-intended when people say this to me, but by calling what I have done in my life (which is quite frankly no different than most able-bodied people) 'inspiring' it belittles the many years my family and I have spent trying to integrate me into society. It makes me feel like I'm no longer just another person, but someone who has accomplished these larger than life achievements when in reality, I haven't.
I think the reason why the word inspirational bothers me so much is because there's a condescending tone associated with it. People seem to think I'm inspiring because I get up every morning, go to work and live independently from my family. The thing I've always wondered is: what do people expect me to do?
I was always encouraged by my family to achieve the same things as everyone else (i.e. school, work, etc.) despite having a physical disability. I have life goals like everyone else and I have thankfully achieved several of them. This doesn't make me inspiring, it makes me normal.
The point I'm trying to make is that at no point do I want to be placed on a pedestal for being a disabled person who achieved rather basic life goals. I just want to be looked upon as a person who lives a relatively normal life and happens to use a wheelchair.