Redefine Success as a Disabled Person

Greetings readers,

Welcome back to the blog!

In today’s society, we’re so focused on defining success for things like: having a successful career, a successful marriage, be a successful parent. Or, we look at owning an expensive car, and owning a big house as having success. Before I start this blog, I want to set some things straight first. Both disabled and non disabled people can be successful. Both disabled people and able-bodied people can have the list of things mentioned above, and to look up to their successes that way. However, the kind of success I want to talk about in today’s blog is different. And, it is also important to note, I’m writing out my thoughts and perspectives here. I’m not trying to compare my life with another person, disabled or not.

Currently where I am in my life, I don’t hold any of the successes mentioned above. But I’m not even embarrassed about it. Neither do I see myself as a failure, for not having that kind of success. (OK, reality check: I used to think that way, but thankfully not anymore). You see, I’m a disabled person. But, I’m not using my disability as an excuse, for not having success. As I said, I know there’re very successful disabled people out there. And I know people already know that. But, what people sometimes don’t know enough about is that, some (and that’s the key word here), some successful people, disabled or not, have/had a lot of help from others, especially with regards to career successes. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s actually a good thing. But, that’s also a privilege. And not everyone has that kind of privilege, myself included. Also, I’m not saying that’s an excuse, either. It’s simply what it is. [insert: I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because I know there are people/friends in my life that follow and support my work, and I so appreciate all of you!]

As a disabled person, I now learned to look at success through a different lens. And I know, I’m not alone in this. Many people in the disability and chronically ill community would agree with me. So, how do I look at success? Well, through celebrating the everyday little things in life. And let me provide you with just a few examples to show you what I mean.

On any given day, if I wake up feeling good or even feeling OK, that’s a success. If I don’t have any pain or in a manageable amount of pain, that’s a success. If I can be more productive in a day, that’s a success. And, if I did many things and didn’t have to “pay” for the consequences, that, my friend, is definitely a success!

Other successes I focus on are some of the accomplishments I already had in life, these include: I graduated from university, despite some significant challenges due to ill health and disability; I won several awards; and especially this one— I love what I do as an activist, a blogger and a public speaker.

Also, I should mention that sometimes, redefine success could also mean to change unrealistic expectations of oneself. Even that means, having to “give up” on some things. Which can be so hard to acknowledge and accept sometimes. But, instead of thinking of it as “giving up”, I try (and try real hard) to think of it as a success, because, doing things beyond my ability or doing something unrealistically, could potentially lead to failure. So, it’s wise to let some things go, at least for now.

As you can see, my version of success is different from the success set by society. As a disabled person, I feel that a lot of people, especially the able-bodied, take a lot of things in life for granted. They can’t seem to wrap their heads around why is it that simple everyday tasks are even considered successes. But for many disabled people, being able to function “normally” or being without pain for a day, or even a few moment, can be a huge success, and that needs to be celebrated!

I hope you can understand, this is how I define success now. And this is my reality. I may not be a successful person deemed by society, and that’s OK. At least, I’m being realistic and honest with myself and with my expectations. Not to mention, the fact that I continue to do my best to take care of my disabled and chronically ill body, which isn’t always successful, but good enough.

Here’s a closing question for you: How do you define success?

By: The Invisible Vision Project

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