These are the kinds of roles we can all model. Disabled people often hear how inspiring we are. “I’m amazed the way you keep going in spite of…whatever.” Some of us hate that, because nobody is trying to be inspiring. We’re just trying to live. But I have learned to appreciate those compliments. If I make people feel better, what’s wrong with that?
I used to work out at the YMCA pool with a guy named Joseph who was born without arms. He swims by wearing huge fins and breathing through a snorkel. He can do a lot of things with his mouth. One day, he told me had just been to the supermarket, and the checkout clerk had told him how inspiring he was, being able to shop by himself and all. Joseph replied, “I’m sure if I knew what you were going through, I’d think you were inspiring, too.”
Everybody I tell that to thinks it’s a great answer. The clerk didn’t want to hear it, though. “Oh, no, my problems are nothing compared to yours,” she said. She hadn’t accepted yet that she was a role model. Have you?