Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: April 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Going the Distance: On Achievement and "Inspiration"

The video above features Lea Salonga's version of "Go the Distance". 

I had to overcome a lot to get this far--and I still have a long way to go. Anxiety and a fear of failure are my main pitfalls when it comes to success. The reason why I might hesitate before saying "Hi" to a prospective new friend is a fear of rejection. I may not take a leadership position as readily because I know I will become corrupted and cause people misery. If I didn't receive the proper support in my childhood, I would spend my days languishing in bed where I can't hurt or disappoint anyone. As "perfect" as I may seem, I am still human--awkward, imperfect, sinful and very much human.

If someone slapped an image of me maxing out on a squat on the Internet and captioned it with something along the lines of "This girl is autistic. What's your excuse?", people would call it "inspirational" for the wrong reasons. (A lot of these things have to do with physical feats. Why not celebrate the strength of the mind or faith?) For one, it undermines the hard work I did to even get a bar on my shoulders. It shows one moment of strength without putting the frustration, failures, sweat, or previous success into context. The image would objectify autistic people with an achieving athlete stereotype and make non-athletic autistic people seem worthless. If you don't see how "positive" stereotyping would hurt remember this: Positive stereotyping hurts because it subjects the affected group to undue and/or unrealistic standards (i.e. most Asian stereotypes).

Being inspirational for the right reasons is serving as a role model for people with similar or different disabilities or people in general. I want to lead the way for other students like me, who get good grades (like As and Bs), but need help in school. I'm still waiting for the far off place with my hero's welcome, but I know it will be there if I can stay strong. I want to show that autistic people can live fulfilling lives and that they are not a tragedy, mistake, burden (at least not more of a burden than a human would be), or something to be fixed. I hope people will see this through what I do.