During this stage of my life, I'm finding it challenging to retain the sources of motivation that come with going to school full-time and being surrounded by creative, intelligent people with every turn of my head. Fortunately, I'm returning there in August, albeit to a new university, a new setting, and new sights, smells, and sounds.
Most people are shocked when they discover that my motivation does not come from other people with disabilities. I often find solace in understanding that people with disabilities similar to my own have been on the adventure before me, but that's simply a "logistics" meter. Even in 2014, I still have concerns about the accessibility of modern public facilities, as well as the quality of service offered to those with disabilities.
In a recent conversation with a mentor who played football for a legendary coach in college, works for a university to which I have extreme loyalty, and who has a broadcasting background, he simply asked, "Where do you learn? Who motivates you? Is there anybody you study?" Very generally, I answered, "People without disabilities." The reasons for that are many, but the biggest part of my logic centers around the idea that people who are in similar situations are not motivations, simply due to the fact that they may not offer advice that will allow you to better your journey. For example, if two 23 year old young professionals attempted to mentor each other, it would turn into an accountability situation. Since experience is one of the best teachers we have, the opportunity to learn from experience can come from mentorship.
I'm motivated by the fact that society sees disability as a negative concept. I'm motivated, not because I can prove people wrong with my actions, but because I've always thought of it as the best thing to ever happen to me. Since I've graduated college, the reaction to the simple fact that it happened has been astounding. Honestly, the actions and reactions of people toward me and toward my situation are my biggest source of motivation. Why should I only walk 5 steps when I can walk 10, get more exercise, and have legs like no one has ever seen?
Most recently, I'm motivated by college athletes. Why? College athletes who are successful and who flourish on and off the field of play understand the importance of living a full life, but also the importance of using the platform that a student-athlete offers to be leaders in the community and elsewhere. It doesn't take being a student-athlete to come to these realizations, but the lifestyle allows for an amazing opportunity to see, do, and be many things for the athlete and for others. Wants motivate people far too often, when needs should be driving the bus. A need to give back to the community is not something that is innate in many, but realizing the need can transform sources of motivation. It's an explanation for why my passion for community service is off the charts!
Motivation comes in all shapes and sizes that can vary depending on the current situation and circumstances. Knowing that, why has it become crucial that we fit into a mold that may not fit us? Why do I have to be motivated by people with disabilities just because I happen to have one?
Where does your motivation come from?