The Dichotomy of Inspiration

I’ve been labeled “inspirational” in countless scenarios. Whether I’m simply navigating a grocery store, sharing a candid moment about my life on social media, or just enjoying a drink with some friends at a bar, this title shadows me, attaching itself to my identity with an adhesive persistence. The ordinary is suddenly deemed extraordinary, and the mundane becomes a marvel. But here’s the conundrum: while I genuinely revel in the idea that my journey can be a beacon for others, there’s a part of me that struggles with being celebrated for what I consider just… living.

I appreciate the intention behind it; after all, who wouldn’t want to be a source of encouragement for others? But alongside this pride lies a gnawing question: am I truly deserving of such a label?

It’s possible these labels are simply a symptom of our culture. Society has long held its own notions about disability. Even as advancements are made in understanding, inclusion, and representation, there remains an indelible, age-old perception deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness. The “disabled” are often pigeonholed, our narratives oversimplified into tales of sorrow and struggle or superhuman triumph. This binary way of looking at individuals with disabilities either reduces us to objects of pity or elevates us to the status of divine inspirations.

When I engage with the world, I often find myself confronting these predetermined scripts. Strangers approach with preconceived notions, whether it’s the well-meaning individual who speaks to me with an exaggerated volume and slowness (as if my physical condition affects my ability to comprehend) or the person who offers unsolicited advice or prayers for a “miracle cure.” (This happens far more often than you might realize and please allow me a point of personal privilege to implore those who do this to please stop.) Then there are those who express amazement over everyday activities, reinforcing the idea that the mundane for many is a marvel when I do it.

Certainly, these interactions are not born out of malice. But for individuals with disabilities, it can sometimes evoke the sensation of being in a fishbowl — constantly watched, evaluated, and silently assessed against societal standards and outward perceptions. There’s a depth to this scrutiny that goes beyond mere observation. It’s as if every action, no matter how trivial, becomes a measure of our character and worth. Over time, this can breed a latent anxiety: a fear of not constantly rising to the occasion or fulfilling the ‘inspirational’ mold that society has unknowingly set for us. The worry isn’t just about not meeting societal expectations, but more poignantly, it’s the dread of disappointing those who see us as beacons of hope and resilience.

Put more simply, imposter syndrome takes root prompting my insidious inner voice to say, “How long until they figure out I’m not who they think I am?”

Despite everything, I’ve come to acknowledge that there’s a reason why I’m perceived as “inspirational” by many. Beyond my daily activities and the barriers I navigate, it’s the spirit of persistence, the will to live life on my terms, and the unyielding resolve to not let my disability define my entire existence. This resilience, while innate to me, stands out as extraordinary to those looking in. And while it might feel overwhelming at times, I recognize the incredible opportunity – perhaps even responsibility – that this platform grants me.

The power to inspire is not one I take lightly. If my journey, my story, can provide a glimmer of hope, if it can act as a catalyst for someone else to push beyond their boundaries and reach their potential, then that’s a mantle I must shoulder. As much as I grapple with the label of “inspirational,” I also understand the broader impact it can have. By embracing this role, I can shift the narrative, challenge preconceived notions, and perhaps, in my own way, contribute to reshaping society’s understanding of disability. If I can inspire even one individual to see past limitations – whether self-imposed or societal – and chase after their dreams, then maybe, just maybe, I’m worthy of being labeled “inspirational.”

I’d like to make this blog a bit more interactive, so I’ve created a Google Form that lets anyone send in questions or topics they would like me to explore. You can even submit anonymously, if you wish.

Tell me what you want me to write about. Nothing is off-limits, but I don’t guarantee I will create a post based on your input.


  1. Cory Nordstrand

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. You are very good with words my friend and I grapple with this dichotomy every trip I’ve taken to Vegas. I’m just trying to live my best life, nothing more nothing less. God bless you KL or whatever you may believe in. There is certainly something greater than all of us that brings us all together. We are all just trying to live after all. If it happens to inspire someone to chase their dreams along the way then it’s an honor I had something to do with that. Anyone that chases their dreams is an inspiration after all at least in my eyes… <3 peace and love.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I couldn’t agree more: we’re all just trying to live our best lives, and if we can inspire others along the way, it’s a beautiful thing.

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