When I find myself lacking for ideas, I can count on life to give me certain scenarios in endless supply. When all else fails there’s always another list brewing in my brain or in this case, the inescapable ‘You’re an inspiration!’ trope rears its head.
Inspiration porn is mildly sickening to me and I hate to be the focus of it. As a little girl, being a porn star was not on my list of ultimate goals for life and yet, in a weird, twisted way I feel like that is exactly what I’ve become.
The other day I was at taking part in an observation for school with several of my classmates. I’m taking a Teaching English as a Second Language certification; all of the students in this program are adults with university degrees. There is only one cohort, so everyone has the same classes; there’s one group of twenty-eight of us. I’ve been going to school with these people since September – seeing them every week, working with them every week. So, these people know me; we’re not bosom friends or anything, but they know me. One person said to me passively, “Oh wow, it’s so good that you’re here. It must be so hard for you; you just keep doing what you’re doing, okay?” And then, not half an hour later, my other classmate says to me, “You have no idea how much of an inspiration you are.”
I responded very politely, with the obvious question of, “Thank you, but why?”
Generally speaking, I find it infuriating to be told I’m an inspiration for no good reason, but I give a little more credit to those who can cobble together some type of an explanation. When I asked her why, my classmate – who knows me – stared blankly and said, “Well, the fact that you’re even here! Just you being here is inspiring. You set such an example. It’s amazing,”
I told her, “It’s really not. I’m just, you know, living. But thanks.”
I know that none of these things are said with malicious intent. People are just trying to be nice and they probably really truly believe that my being out in public, actively doing something with my life, is something that justifies a choir of angels singing in the background. But seriously? It makes me angry, especially when it comes from people who know me. I’m more tolerant of a stranger’s ignorance than I am of people who know me, see me and talk to me on a regular basis. It took all the restraint I had not to yell at both of them and tell them how insulting I found their comments to be.
Layla Guse Salah