“It’s 2010, the end of June, and the sun is shining gloriously outside. I, however, am laid in a hospital bed breathing through a tube in my neck. Less than 2 months before this, I was in a pretty bad car crash and was lucky to survive. My current sorry state is the result of the crash, but on this day I’m not feeling sorry for myself. On this day, I’ve been visited by a good friend and we’ve been talking and laughing for over an hour now. I’m full of joy. And then my friend pauses for a second and tells me how “inspirational” I am. The smile on my face grows wider, but the smile in my head shrinks out of existence. It’s a nice compliment to receive but my brain doesn’t fully understand why it’s being received. I sure don’t feel “inspirational”. I’m not in the middle of achieving a great goal I set out for myself and I’m not changing the world for the good of others. I was just lucky enough to not die from an experience I had no control over, and now I’m simply going through the motions necessary to recover.”
Or so I tell myself.
You see, it’s only now in hindsight that I realise how much the accident had really messed me up psychologically. It would be years before I could look in the mirror again and see anything of any value, let alone inspirational. Now I’m fully aware my mindset at the time was extremely flawed and severely damaged. But that was how I felt at the time and as such, it was my reality. So imagine my bewilderment when people would say things like, “You should write a book” or “You would give an awesome TED Talk”. Suggestions like that felt like fantasy but after hearing them enough times over so many years, I began to indulge those fantasies and imagine a world where I did write a best-selling book or give an “awesome TED Talk”. The seeds had been planted and as my mind healed and my life stabilised I began to genuinely explore more realistic versions of those fantasies. With the overwhelming support and encouragement of those around me and the little self-belief I had managed to muster over the years, I began seeking opportunities to tell my story and share my experiences with others who might benefit from them. At first, it was just those same people around me, and eventually, I was talking in schools, universities and workplaces. My second attempt at writing a blog was well received and eventually turned into what you’re reading today. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was actively doing something of value with my life and I was happy with that. I’m so grateful that all the annoying people in my life who kept calling me inspirational and telling me I could and should do such marvellous and wondrous things never stopped being annoying. I’m so grateful they never gave up on me. And I’m so proud I eventually believed in myself enough to see and take the opportunities that so many others around me had been talking about.
It isn’t a bestselling book but my blog has definitely done some good. And I’m yet to give that TED Talk, but I definitely have no problem sharing the lessons I’ve learned in-person to a live audience. Knowing how much of a sceptic I can be at times, I would’ve never believed it without seeing it myself but you truly can achieve great things if you set your mind to it. Obviously, it isn’t always straightforward, quick or easy. Things still have to fall into place around you to give you room to achieve certain goals and you may not be able to control what, how or when those things manifest. But you do have control over how ready you are when those things do fall into place. Even my sceptic mind cannot argue with the saying “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation”. You might only get one big break, but will you be ready enough to see it when it comes.
So I’ve been writing this blog now since 2015 and have no plans of stopping any time soon. But the public speaking, well that’s a bit more difficult to do in a pandemic. But, the ways we now use technology have opened up a whole new set of opportunities for so many. And for me, experiences like being able to give my first-ever keynote speech as part of something as big as Social Work Week from the comfort of my own home have opened my eyes to an opportunity I’ve wanted to try for a while now. I’ve decided to branch My Life in a Chair out to YouTube. I’ll be sharing the same types of experiences and lessons learned I always have, and then some. This will also be more accessible and possibly reach a lot more people. My first proper video is still in the works but here’s just a taster. If you’ve enjoyed what I’ve had to share over the years or feel it’s of any value to yourself or anyone else, then let’s get the word out. My Life in a Chair is now on YouTube. Subscribe to the channel and spread the word. Till next time, whether it’s on here or over there, stay awesome.