The Responsibility of Being Inspirational.

At the horse show last weekend a woman came up to me and introduced herself. She was also competing at the show and told me how much she  enjoyed my blog as she could read the posts and say “Yes, I’ve felt like that.” She told me I was “inspirational”.  I was so happy to hear this from her. But it reminded me that in 2016 during the Paralympics I had read of some para-athletes who were not happy being “inspirational”.

At the time I read some articles about this. It seemed that the para-athletes wanted to be just regarded as ordinary athletes. I couldn’t understand it. Athletes, able bodied or parallel who make it to the Olympics are not “ordinary”. All of them have sacrificed and slogged through the hours of training, setbacks, and challenges. These are all super athletes even if they never stand on a podium.  To me they are all inspirational.

Inspirational. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word  as “making you feel hopeful or encouraged.”  That is exactly how para athletes make me feel. That is also how all top athletes make me feel. To watch someone who is at the  top of their game excelling in their sport is inspiring.

But…..is there a responsibility that goes with being inspirational?  Do these athletes have to behave better than the  rest of us? Do their lives have to be judged by higher standards? If we put them up on the “inspirational” pedestal does that impose a weight or responsibility some do not want to bear?

I think that for those who are famous and in the public eye it is a huge responsibility. And what happens when they fall from grace? Well look at Lance Armstrong. I thought he was inspirational. He was a cancer survivor. I am a cancer survivor. If he could succeed as he did there was hope for all of us.  Then we all found out he was a cheat and a liar. Boom!  Down from the pedestal and smack onto the hard ground of reality.

But for others they can use their inspirational qualities to help others. Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Charlotte Dujardin, and many other Olympic athletes who have chosen to support causes dear to their hearts and this has encouraged others to join them.

Yes, it is a responsibility to be inspirational.  I am not famous and so for me it is not a burden. If someone who is diagnosed with cancer can read my blog and believe they can survive as I have…..great! If someone can read my blog and know that a 69 year old can ride and compete and that encourages them to carry on riding…great! If anything about my life can help someone else to feel better or feel more hopeful….great!

So those paralympians will just have to man-up and woman-up to accept the mantle  of “inspirational” athletes.  They certainly inspire me! And remember this….

It is never too late to be what  you might have been.—-George Elliot

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28 Comments Add yours

  1. Billy Mac says:

    what a wonderful post. You really are inspirational

    Liked by 4 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this reblog Danny!

      Like

  2. I’m ok with people both being inspirational and just ordinary people with problems all at the same time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      That is a good attitude. We can’t always be up on those pedestals. Thank you for this level headed comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful post Anne, and what a lovely compliment to receive. I agree with you, I think it’s wonderful to be able to make even one person feel hopeful. There can never be enough hope in the world. 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 5 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Exactly ! There can never be enough hope in the world.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, you are inspiring because you are so ‘real’.
    Actually, I just think it’s neat you got to meet a ‘follower’ in your own element and unexpectedly, too!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes it was nice to make the connection
      Thanks for your comment Laura

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Austen says:

    Girl, you not only inspire me you encourage me to make sure I take care of myself now so I can still ride at FEI at 69 years old! People have told me many times that my journey to compete my older arthritic thoroughbred at 4th level in the most mediocre way is inspiring, and I think that’s awesome if it encourages them to get out there and push themselves to learn and try. We’re all in this together, after all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yed yes,yes!!! Your arthritic TB still wants to get out there so good for you in taking up that challenge. BRAVO!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. sandyjwhite says:

    Famous or not, we all can be a source of inspiration to others in some way, as a model of behavior.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes! You are right because we never know who needs to be inspired or why they need it.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Katrin says:

    When a person is a person with disability, and others who are able bodied use the term “inspirational” toward that person with disability doing every day things ex “I can’t believe you who is blind can cross the street on your own! How inspirational”. That leaves a garbage taste. And when statements like that are made over and over as you live your daily life, you get soured to the term “inspirational”. Same as if the disability is used as the Inspiration for the Able bodied. Ex: “I can’t even ride a horse and I have 2 legs! Wow, I’m inspired that you can do it as an amputee.” Statements such as that can make a person feel less than, like their hard work, training, effort and such isn’t being recognized but the focus is solely on the disability. The term when used as defined, then that’s different, but so often for people with disabilities, it’s not and is used at the expense of the disabled person for the benefit of the able bodied.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      I understand what you are saying. It must be so frustrating. But for able bodied or parallel Olympians it has to be part of the load they carry. It is not easy to be up there on a pedestal. Not everyone is cut out for it . And there is so much else in getting to the Olympics at well. My hat is off to all who make it.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Emma Cownie says:

    All athletes are inspirational. I find all sorts of people inspirational especially if they have had to struggle against the odds but I’m well aware that struggles are difficult and not always on an upwards trajectory. There are downs too. I realise that being called inspirational can be a heavy burden on a bad day (as it has been for me on occasions). Still, I think you just have to be glad that people are getting something positive out of what you are doing. Years ago I was inspired by the Corey Weissman Biopic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1000_to_1:_The_Cory_Weissman_Story) in my darkest days when I was utterly exhausted by PTSD and burn out. I know that life isn’t straight forward for him but I remember holding on to the image of him hobbling along the road after his stroke determined to get fit and play basketball again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Emma
      This is a wonderful comment and I will check out that link. I appreciate your sharing thoughts on inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. txjessy says:

    I just love this! You are inspiring I am half your age and not nearly as active, so that definitely motivates me! Also hearing from cancer surviavals gives hope to people going through a dark tunnel! 💕

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      I agree about cancer survivors. It gave me hope when I was first diagnosed. I remember it well. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. txjessy says:

        My pleasure 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Once someone told me when a person calls you a teacher or an inspiration, you have received the highest compliment. So I guess it is a moment of pride for you to reflect upon and I hope you continue with that!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you so much for this supportive comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. lulu says:

    I think we are all capable of being inspirational and that is such positive reenforcement.

    Liked by 3 people

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