Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ask and you will recieve

It’s been one heck of an exciting week for me. I have so much to update you all on, but I’m not going to just yet. I'm keeping some news under my hat for the time being. I assure you that I’m not doing it to be cruel. I’m doing it because the news is so unbelievable that, until all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed, I’m terrified that something will go wrong. Frankly, I’m not wholly convinced that I haven’t imagined the whole situation.

What I can talk about, however, is how much this week has taught me about chasing what you want. Rarely does something good come to you unless you seek it first. Ask and you will receive.

Twice in the last week I’ve asked for something when no opportunity existed. I’ve put myself forward, and I’ve ended up in a position where I can be part of something exciting. Instead of waiting for opportunity to come my way, I stepped out and went looking for it.

Jesse Owens chasing his place in history
Like me, I imagine that most of you know this to be true, but still find yourselves waiting. I knew that I had to pursue what I wanted before this week. I wonder, however, if I really believed it. I think I can safely say that for most of this year, I’ve been waiting for something to happen. I didn’t know what it was and, until recently, I certainly didn’t go looking for it. For example, I’ve wanted to start writing for a long time, but until I started this blog, I wasn’t doing anything about it. A career in writing was never going to fall into my lap.

Step out of the door
In the same way, I’m never going to impact people’s lives from my lounge. I have to keep stepping out of my front door.

I whole heartedly believe that everybody has the potential to pursue what they want. Nobody has to be left behind. Whatever you want, whether it’s a family, a business, a hobby, or anything in between, you have to potential to reach it, if only you step out the door. Obviously, sometimes it might not work out. But you can be sure that unless you ask, pursue and fight for what you want, you’ll never get near it.

I’d love to hear about what you’re pursuing. What steps are you taking to reach your ambitions? What opportunities have you been given when you’ve gone out and asked for them?

Monday, 13 May 2013

Fighting Talk: I am not silenced by the darkness

"Yet I am not silenced by the darkness" Job 23:17
I mentioned in my last post, and possibly before, that I have struggled with my mental health for a number of years. Since this week is the start of the mental health awareness campaign, I thought that it would be appropriate to share one of the phrases that encourages me through my battle with depression.

This verse is particularly close to my heart, and not just because I have it as a tattoo on my chest! (I'll spare you all from a photograph.) I first came across this verse when I was in a particularly desperate place. Reading this gave me the strength not to do something which I would have always regretted. 

When I read this I am reminded of two things. The first is that I should never be silent when I'm having a 'bad day'. Not talking about mental illness is part of why it has become such a big problem for many of us today. The taboo that still surrounds mental illness causes misunderstanding and isolation. Also, for me, when I don't talk to people when I'm struggling with my mind, I find that it festers and is able to take root. Depression wants you to stop talking about it, so that it's the only voice you can hear.

The second thing that this verse reminds me is, to never be silent about the evil you see in the world. I don't mean that we should all take it upon ourselves to fight for every single cause that comes our way. That's impossible. But I think that it's important not to become used to injustice. I never want to be someone who accepts an evil as inevitable, and unchangeable. I'm passionate about seeing injustice challenged. This verse reminds me not to let the world tell me that it can't be done.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My Story

My life has, so far, been far from ordinary.

I have learnt that through telling people your story you can make a profound impact and create an instant connection. Telling people what you've done, where you've been and what struggles you've overcome, can give them inspiration and give yourself authority.

In September of 2012 I married Katie. I was just over 21 when I got married. This is when most people express shock, or disgust. It is often assumed that because we are a young couple, we must be a naive couple. Hopefully, through reading my story, you'll be inclined to disagree.

From the age of 19 I have been a full time carer to my wife. She has the chronic illnesses, fibromyalgia and M.E., which means most days she can't get out of bed and she needs a wheelchair/scooter whenever she leaves the house. Me and my wife fight everyday to not let this situation dictate our lives. Our aspirations are high, we refuse to be held back because we know that there in an amazing life waiting for us.

I'm in the middle of doing a history degree. It's tough doing a degree, whilst being a full time carer and working a part time job, but, I'm passionate about my subject, and frankly, I'm good at it too.

I have a busy, sometimes difficult, but always wonderful life. It's a lot of pressure, and I have a lot of responsibility, much more than the average 21 year old. I've had to fight to get what I have, and must continue to fight so that I can live a fruitful life.

I hasn't always been a smooth ride. For a number of year, I've struggled with mental illness. I've gone from pill to pill, I've gone backward and I've gone forward, I've been in and out of hospital, and I've spent more time with counsellors than I'd care to guess at. The important thing, however, is that I'm still working to overcome my situation, and to turn a negative into something remarkable. I refuse to be silenced by the darkness that tries in infiltrate my life.

I draw my strength from several places. I am inspired by the acts and words of other people. I wear words of encouragement like armour to protect me from negativity.

My wife is also an amazing source of strength for me. While I care for her physically, she continually  feeds back into me. She gives me strength, encouragement and wisdom. She's the greatest fighter that I've ever met. She oozes strength and power, even when she's in too much pain to move.

My greatest source of strength, however, comes from God. For two years I've been a Christian and been part of a life changing church. My faith has kept me alive, literally. It's a constant reminder that I have potential to change the world, and my church is giving me the tools to do just that. I do things, with God, that I could hardly have imagined without him.

This is, of course, a snapshot of my story. I have so much more to tell you, and every single day, I'm working no adding more. Consider this a trailer. For the full length feature, keep reading this blog, and more will be revealed.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Fighting Talk: Rise Again

"The mighty fall and the great rise again."
Over the six weeks that this feature has appeared on this blog, I have referred to the great words of well known people. I have quoted athletes, writers, and historical figures to inspire and encourage myself, and my readers. This time, however, I'm actually quoting something I wrote myself. So far, I've been reluctant to do this. Partly, I was worried about taking credit for something that I only thought was original. More so, I don't want to come across as having some warped sense of self grandeur. But I have been drawing strength from the phrase for some time, so I decided to share it with you.

I've been struggling, mentally and physically, for a good number of weeks now. I use this phrase to remind me that everybody has moments when they need to sit back and regroup. It's been difficult for me to accept that I needed time to stop, rest and recover; and that there was no shame in this.

When you struggle with mental illness, you often find yourself questioning whether it's real. You doubt that you are actually sick, even though you would never think that way about other people. You have to remind yourself that just because you can't see the illness, it doesn't mean it's made up. You have to trust the symptoms. You can't "walk off" a broken leg, and you can't ignore away mental illness.

The quote also reminds me that I can't stay, content, in the gutter. I have to fight to get up when I fall. When I  get back on my feet, I will be stronger and wiser than before. It's not an easy journey, but it's so worth it. The last few weeks have been a succession of me getting knocked back down on my backside. I've felt weak, and defeated, but I remember that quote and I find strength to push on, one more time.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Create Something Worth Remembering

If you look back through history, it's clear, that most of the time, we remember great people for what they leave behind. They are remembered as great men and women because of what they built, not for what they destroy.

Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan are both remembered for constructing the largest empires that the world had ever seen, not for the millions of people who died, or the civilisations they destroyed along the way. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Leon Trotsky are remembered for their great literary works, not for their moral failings, especially their terrible treatment of women. Likewise, Elizabeth Blackwell, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks are all remembered for the legacy they built up for future generations.

My point here is that we will be remembered for what we create. This might be a physical creation, or a legacy which outlives you and inspires others. Obviously, we’re very unlikely to be remembered in the same way as the above mentioned. We will all, however, be remembered by friends and family. Just because you don’t become famous, doesn’t mean that what you create won’t be significant and impacting.  

What do you want to be remembered for? This is a question which I have been asking myself for a long time. I’ve been drifting between wanting to create something through politics, academia, literature and even business. Ideally I’d do it all, but obviously that never going to be possible. It seems to me that it’s important to have focus on what you want to achieve. When I’m vague on what I’m trying to achieve, I find that I drift without really doing anything. What I do know is that I want to create something worth remembering, a legacy, even if it’s only for my children.

What do you think? Do you need to know what you want your legacy to be, or is it OK to be more vague about it? Also, what would you like to be remembered for? What legacy, or creation, would you like people to associate with you?