Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Please Don't Call Me an Inspiration

For whatever reason, people have always felt the need to tell me how inspiring my life is.
How I "overcome so much."
How I am "so brave" for doing this or that.
How I am "always smiling despite the hardships."
Or how I am "so strong."
(And--oh wait, my personal favorite…)
How I "live just like a normal person."

Please believe me when I say that I appreciate these comments! I know that the person means well, even if that's not how it came out. Sometimes I want to say something back like, "Thanks for noticing!" Or, "I'm glad someone understands!" Or, "Oh shoot, do you really think that of me? I'm flattered!" 

But most of the time, I would just like to say... 

No. Thank you, but no. 

You see, I was not born yesterday. I know that when people take the time to tell me how "inspiring" my life is, they aren't just referring to the grades I work for or the new mile time I just beat on the treadmill. (Believe me when I say my mile time is anything but inspiring.) I know this because just about anyone can be smart or run fast. Instead, I am apparently "inspiring" because-- oh, that's right! I have dwarfism and don't always act like I do.

To be more specific, here is collection of some of these comments I have received in just the past few weeks or so:

"We think you are really brave for going to Augustana, despite… everything, you know?"
"I look up to you so much. Well, not literally. But you know what I mean."
"I don't think I could be as happy as you are if I was in your shoes."
"I'm surprised to see you here (a party). I wasn't sure if you did these things like everyone else."
"Courtney I am so happy to see that you're not letting your dwarfism stop you from joining a sorority."
"I always tell my friends how awesome you are for being a little person and still doing everything like us."
"You sure don't dress like a little person."
"You're so strong."

I guess to the average person, the diagnosis of dwarfism also implies a terrible life. As if I was expected to stay in bed all the time, sheltered from the real world, and be hand-fed by my parents. School isn't necessary, forget being social and making friends, parties are a definite no, what is a car and how would I ever drive one-- just no, dwarfs can't play sports, cute clothes are impossible to find, I should just blame God for this because why would I have faith in someone who made me this way. I have heard it all.

Basically, I should have given up a long time ago.

But wait. I didn't, so…. I'm an inspiration!

No. Please stop. Just no. 

Because do you know what happens when you call me inspirational? You put me on this unnecessary and unwanted pedestal. Believe me when I say that I do not need another thing to separate me from the people I so desperately want to be associated with. Thank you, but I don't want to be seen as better than anyone else. I don't need to rise above. I just want to walk along side the rest of you. I am not extra special just because I do things despite my dwarfism. Please forgive me for not wanting to be treated differently, because I don't see myself that way.

Also, please forgive me for not wanting to be the strong one all the time. Because if I've learned anything while being "inspirational," it's that no one ever asks how you are doing. You're just expected to have your shit together.

Don't get me wrong. 99% of the time, this girl is on fire. But the hot mess that makes up that last percent is nothing that I should be inspiring anyone to be.

Yes, I have earned every single thing I have in life. I have sweated and cried and considered giving up a few more times than I would like to admit. I have taken risks and faced my worst fears like it's my job. I have learned to force a smile when I feel anything but happy, and I have been polite to people who have destroyed me with their words. My faith has been tested and I have had to argue the existence of things that I sometimes can't even see for myself.

But do you know what? There is someone out there whose 3rd Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor on their 4th chromosome is not mutated, doing the same. damn. thing. Where is their round of applause? Where is their award? Oh wait, that's right. That would just be considered "normal" behavior because he or she is a "normal" person. (I puke a little bit in my mouth every time someone says the word normal. Stop trying to make normal happen. It's not going to happen!)

Yes, I have dwarfism. But I still can attend a prestigious college, maintain good grades, be an active member of a sorority and many other clubs, have a job, know how to have a good time with my friends, and keep a positive attitude, like anyone else. I'm not trying to be inspiring or amazing or extra special.
Just happy. 


  1. I myself a Little People from Germany, and you're blogging (talking) out of my soul

  2. Amen! Nicely stated and a great message to all.

  3. Hi courtney! we come from germany and our little daughter Joanna has dwarfism! i can totally understand you and i love your posting! It also makes me angry when people act or say simular things! That why i started to write joannas blog! are you on facebook? i would love to get in contact to you!

    1. Hi Joanna! Yes, I am on Facebook! Please feel free to add me as a friend, as I would love to get to know you!

    2. I love your blog. I came across it because I'm writing a movie w/ a little person main character (a male). It's a gangster movie. Your blog is helpful. I hadn't fully thought out the way people may respond to you in social situations. You are an extremely talented writer.

  4. Bravo. I read this as if I could have written in. As a 56yr old Achon woman I lived this. You took the words right out of my life... I applaud you for putting this into words on a Social Network that did not exist when I was your age. Thank you my dear. You rock. :)

  5. Great article! I just think you are a cool young lady!

  6. I always enjoy reading your blog- so articulate and humourous, and you give me such helpful insight (my daughter is 2 with achon). Keep writing!

  7. Ha ha ha, 'inspirational', I get it too. It may as well be a pseudonym for dwarfism.

  8. People can be so thick.
    Hello!? Courtney is not only a regular person she's above average and if those of you giving out the backhanded compliments think you are the normal ones then she is definitely not normal, she's exceptional and she has never had to 'overcome' being herself.
    While you may have physical dwarfism of your body Courtney, they surely have dwarfism of the common sense gene. It's like being called such an inspiration for other left handed people; i.e. ridiculous and insulting.