For many in the disability community, the statement “you are such an inspiration” for trying to live a normal life by just everyday things like everyone else. Is a statement that is received as patronizing and belittling, as this statement acts as a form of segregation in the sense that it highlights the fact that they are not allowed to be just normal.
Whereas for me this marks a point of departure, while yes, I do dislike the fact that this statement prevents me from living a normal life and enduring the normal trials and tribulations. The real issue for me is that until recently I genuinely didn’t believe that I was an inspiration, yet I understand on paper that I have. Either because it was my belief that I didn’t do enough or didn’t deserve it, also partly because of a family trait of “Never believe your own bullshit”.
Those who know me may look at the fact that, that as I started off with only 30 minutes to live at birth and then my parents were told that I mightn’t walk or talk properly. To climbing to Everest Base Camp and running across the Sahara Desert, to achieving a master’s in Disability Studies. Many would ask “regardless of having a disability or not, many haven’t achieved this, and how is that not inspirational?”. As a person of logic, I can see the logic in this statement, and on paper, as I write this, I agree it looks inspirational.
Yet I never felt like I was content until now! Why did I feel like this and what has changed? I guess put simply I felt like I never achieved anything because I wasn’t living my true calling and I didn’t truly believe in myself. Also, a part of me wants to forget that I went to Everest and the Sahara because I want to forget about being on death door due to Altitude Sickness. Or the fact that it was so hot in the Sahara, the moment a drop of sweat appeared on the skin it evaporated, so I just want to forget that my skin constantly felt like a dried-out crisp. When a person experiences a life-threatening situation, it has a profound impact on the person. Like the bursting of a bubble, it’s something that you can never undo or un feel, you will always have that feeling that death is nothing but a click of the fingers away, and how that feeling can be triggered by the simplest of things such as the smell of a log fire.
Then in 2012, I started working with horses and over the past decade, my whole outlook on life has changed. Thanks to the horses I have a sense of purpose in life, which any equestrian will attest has a calming effect on a person’s soul, for the most part anyway. With that said what truly makes me feel proud is that I contribute towards helping people, particularly kids with disabilities to experience the same calming effects of horse riding.
Also, this past decade has led up to me establishing LegUpAbility, which is dedicated to highlighting the issues facing equestrians with disabilities, while promoting that equestrians with disabilities can ride and more importantly can also jump!
I am not perfect, but I believe life is a journey and we should make it as inclusive as possible.