I love this year’s disability awareness campaign that is taking place across Indiana. For the past 26 years, the Indiana Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities has launched efforts to spread important concepts such as inclusion, accessibility, and respect. Usually, these are convey through drawings of accessible settings or drawings of interactions between people with and without disabilities. They have been nice, and they did encourage Hoosiers to think in different ways. However, I think this year’s message is more provocative. It has the potential to cause uncomfortable but more honest conversations about how society view people with disabilities. Uncomfortable, honest conversations? I am all about that because within the last few years, I have learned deeper connections are forged this way.

As you can see from the images above. “I Am Not Your Inspiration” uses real people to make the point that individuals with disabilities are people first. Too often we are automatically deemed as amazing and courageous without even knowing us. This can be extremely frustrating for many of us.

I will tell you something. I don’t want to be an inspiration to you. I want the freedom to be a multidimensional human being. We can’t connect if you put me in a box, making me something that I am not. I am not all rainbows and sunshine with a positive attitude and a go-get-them outlook. I am filled with insecurities, regrets, disappointments, selfishness, fear, and all the other emotions of human kind. I love deeply, hurt easily, protect fiercely. I am committed to Jesus. i sin daily. I laugh with all my being. I struggle with prejudices against wealthy people. I am bossy, a bit too assure of the answers. Being born with cerebral palsy did not make me so special. Seeing me that way undermines my humanity. Seeing me as so amazing also undermine your own courage. Just because your struggles may be less visible does not mean you are any less courageous or that your struggles are less painful. I am your fellow human being, and you are mine. We can connect on that basis but not if you make me an object, an inspiration.

Let’s Keep Being Brave.