Being In a Wheelchair Makes You an Inspiration or No?


Being in a wheelchair makes you an inspiration or no? That is the question.

It’s likely anyone with a visible disability or difference has been told by a complete stranger, “You’re such an inspiration.”

Most people cringe, and I did too for years until I read an article on Push Living that challenged my perspective.

The article pointed out our everyday struggle to survive, and that those of continuing to live life should be called an inspiration. The writer welcomed the term and changed my perspective.

First, let me explain why the inspiration thing is so annoying. Generally, the statement comes from strangers or someone who just met me.

It’s not only hard to believe a stranger can accurately judge my character, the person doing so based it purely on the fact I’m disabled and not my character.

I know lots of people who aren’t inspirational that get called an inspiration, so I know it’s BS. It’s a hollow statement when you don’t even know me.

When you tell a disabled stranger they’re an inspiration, you might as well say, “You’re such an inspiration because I would have killed myself if I were you.” I mean, let’s be real, you know that’s what they’re thinking.

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Gina Schuh, a person with a disability and advocate, gives a beautiful message about true disability inspiration.

When you ask me what my goals are these days, it’s to inspire people with disabilities to advocate in American politics for greater rights for people with disabilities.

I want to be an inspiration. I want people who know me to look at me and say, “She inspires me to fight for my rights.”

I want to inspire people with my character and resilience, not just because I use a wheelchair and haven’t killed myself yet.

That being said, knowing what we go through as people with disabilities I am inspired by every disabled person I see out living life.

We really do have struggles, when we continue to enjoy life in the face of such sadness and loss we truly are inspirational.

Able-bodied people have the right to be inspired by people with disabilities who continue to thrive, especially when there are so many able-bodied individuals who can’t seem to figure out how to do so.

So I urge you, next time you hear that you’re an inspiration just say thank you and continue to inspire.


Related: Disability As “Inspiration:” Can Greater Exposure Overcome this Phenomenon?

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Gina Schuh, Editor, Law and Advocacy

Gina, a C-5/6 quadriplegic, describes herself as a “politically incorrect foodie who is an equal opportunity offender.” Beyond that, Gina is a law school graduate who grew up on a farm in California. Gina’s true passion is food, and you’ll often find her posting food pictures on her Instagram under Ginaisonaroll . Raised by a strong mother who had an insatiable appetite for any educational psychology materials, Gina swears she was raised by an unlicensed psychologist which led to her being so introspective. After people observed her success in dating, they asked for tips, which eventually led to her regular contribution here at Push Living on issues of dating, disability parking, and medical supply reimbursement, leading to the role of Editor of Law and Advocacy.

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