There’s a song called “U + Ur Hand” by Pink that I’ve sung this title to in my head a few times. The original lyrics are I’m not here for your entertainment [..] it’s just you and your hand tonight, but my rendition is I’m not here for your inspiration, it’s just you and yourself for life.
See, before I was aware of the shit that is inspiration porn, I would have thunk it fabulous to be inspired by me. I mean, look at my amazing accomplishments despite what ails me:
- Despite asthma, I ran around a 400m track in two minutes when I was a kid and was racing my athletic male cousin time-wise.
- Despite being Hard of Hearing and speech impediments, I’ve made it through life partaking in verbal conversation and leaving many none the wiser.
- Despite autism, I appear fairly neurotypical to my allistic counterparts, thanks to various intervention therapy created to normalize autistic children so they don’t grow into autistic adults.
- Despite Tourette Syndrome and every other mental health/neurological condition I’m comprised of, I assisted the “special education” students at my high school during their P.E. time, as credit for my P.E. I even assisted a fellow autistic at church for awhile.
- Despite a childhood of abuse and neglect, I managed to beat the statistics that said I’d wind up in prison, doing drugs, and/or inflicting the same acts onto people around me.
None of these things are considered extraordinary for my neurotypical counterparts, or those not “affected” by any of the strong text to a point that their life is influenced in a way able-bodied people perceive as a lower quality of life. To me, these things are just my everyday—my 24/365 for over 29 years.
Yet, still, when people find out those despite things, I’m suddenly different. I’m something to be celebrated because I “beat the odds” and “overcame” asthma, a stutter, my autism, partial deafness, Tourette Syndrome—whatever they bring into question at the time. It doesn’t matter that they can’t see it, or maybe it does—because they can’t see it, because they can’t notice it, because I left them none the wiser, because I was able to appear able-bodied for the duration of their presence, because I put forth 200 percent of myself so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in my disable-bodied presence, because I wasn’t a reminder of the “fallen world” they live in.
This isn’t to say I dislike inspiring you as I am, collectively, so you feel motivated to become your best self—or the words I write or the photos I take or the content I create is what inspires you generally.
That’s not the part I mind.
Some years ago, I received an email from someone who received a reply from me containing my bottled-up wrath about how I don’t share my story to be an inspiration. In hindsight, I could have written the email better after taking some time to think about it, but then I also think I was much too young and naive and angry to respond the way I would now, at 28 years old. This email stays with me. I remember it at the strangest times. I feel guilty for how I responded, but then I don’t at all.
I’m not here to inspire someone despite the things that make me me.
I’m not here to send a message of the things I accomplished in spite of what I have failed to pray away, what leaves me a fallen child of God, or what imprisons me as a broken soul. I’m not broken; I’m whole.
I am who I am—not in spite of a disability or neurological condition—but because of those things. If you removed partial deafness from my life, you would not have the same person; I would be entirely different. Instead of reading captioned shows, I would probably joke about how using captioned television is “reading” instead of watching—a complete 180° from the hilarity of being Hard of Hearing (HoH) and watching a show whose captions resemble something a computer spat out rather than what a person interpreted, because captions don’t always match what happens and algorithms are more flawed than humans.
So. I’m not here for your inspiration, unless you’re here to be a better person than you were yesterday or to learn something useful for your life, like how you’ll be much happier tomorrow if you charge your vibrator tonight. 😏