What do you really mean when you say I'm "inspiring"?
My name is Gabriela, I’m 25 am I'm from Poland. I was born with Cerebral Palsy (spastic diplegia). Even a few years ago I didn’t think I would be able to say it out loud with confidence, let alone post it on the Internet. That’s because I never wanted it to define me, but it took me years to actually believe that it’s just a fact about me. As much as I wish I could say that I’m grateful for it, I don’t think I ever will. But I am truly grateful for the person it helped me become. For the clarity it allowed me to have about what’s important. For how it shaped my attitude towards challenges. For everything I achieved despite the difficulties it placed, and continues to place, on my way. For being one of the things which allow me to say that I’m quite content with the woman I see when I look into the mirror today. And a bit proud of her too.
Fighting for Equality
But…Yes, there is a big but. My disability and the physical challenges I deal with do not mean that I am inherently inspiring. I know that when people say “you’re so inspiring/strong/brave” they generally have good intentions. But, to be honest, I often find it quite patronizing. I cannot help but notice that people with disabilities are most often portrayed by the media and in public discourse in one of two ways: we are either miserable/tragic or inspirational. But it’s pretty rarely that we are seen as equal, valuable human beings. As people who are capable and who want to have equal chances and live “normal” lives.
There’s truly nothing I want more than to be treated like the grown, intellectually and emotionally capable woman that I am (and not, as it often happens, like a child). To be able to work outside of home (I currently work from home as an educational content creator and, as much as I enjoy what I do, I would love to do it in a more “interactive” environment). To help others as much as I can. Finally, to one day find a partner and start my own family.
My goals and dreams are not extraordinary and neither is my life. It’s all I’ve ever known and I just want to make the most of it. I have passions, ambitions, strengths and shortcomings. I also happen to have a disability and it doesn’t mean that I’m inspiring or miserable. I’m human.