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As Disabled people we view success very differently from non-disabled people and it’s not linear. Non-disabled people usually have a very ridged view of success such as having a well-paying career, a house, and a family all by a certain age. But times are changing, and success is rapidly being measured by how much money is made, how many followers and likes are received on social media, or how many endorsements or collaborations are acquired, and age is not a factor here anymore. To be fair though all of this is absolutely valid for people to want, but a lot of this is out of reach for many Disabled people.
PSA: you do not need to flaunt how much you make in order to get the point across that you are successful. There are so many interpretations of what is successful, and it extends beyond money and material items.
Disabled people usually measure their successes by spoons which is their energy for a task and what they are able to do for the day. What may seem like simple everyday tasks are at times insurmountable for Disabled people. If they get it completed that’s a huge success, but it might cost them several spoons and have pain and discomfort after the fact. Disabled people’s successes can be as tiny and small such as taking medication, to huge ambitions such as running a fortune 500 company. It all depends on the spoons and the person’s disability, but in both examples the person is successful.
The art of being successful varies from person to person and it’s important to note that these successes are valid regardless of the worth assigned to that success.
When you look up on Google and type in Disabled and Success, you will get Inspiration Porn articles about how Disabled people overcame their disability in order to be successful, and this is not what happens for most Disabled people as we don’t overcome our disabilities, we manage them. Most of us never become social media influencers, go to the special Olympics, or own businesses, but does that make us unsuccessful? What would you non-disabled people consider us? How high or low does the bar need to be for us to be considered successful?
There are so many non-disabled people out there that are doing mental gymnastics over how can Disabled people ever be successful, but never think to ask what they can do to support a Disabled person in being successful. There is a lot of unlearning that needs to take place when it comes to the idea of being successful and the inherent ableism that follows when thinking of Disabled people being successful. People need to let go of their preconceived notions of what it means to be successful and adapt to innovative thinking in reducing barriers and engaging with Disabled people to support their goals. Non-disabled people have a lot of work when it comes to being supportive of Disabled people, but the work is necessary to create equitable and sustainable opportunities for success at any stage in a Disabled person’s life.
With that said successful Disabled people look like everyone else, but they may need accommodations or access needs to be met. Furthermore, successful Disabled people know their worth and it’s not measured in productivity.
Here is more information on Inspiration Porn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inspiration_porn
Here is more information on Spoon Theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_theory