You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding. I saw this today and it resonated very deeply.
This week has been a bit of a struggle trying to negotiate with my university regarding examination resits. Thankfully, I managed to speak to my Head of School who endeavoured to do his best, but, as he phrased it, we had reached an ‘impasse’. It has frequently been made clear to me that academia is not designed for the working class, for those with mental health issues or those with disabilities. Buildings are slowly being adapted (of course some places are better than others), but attitudes are harder to upgrade. There isn’t a way to send a team of renovators into a mindset, with a sledgehammer, some plasterboard and tins of paint.
For example, when I tried to explain the effects of an 8 hour round trip on my physical health, I was informed that I could fill in a form so my grade would be affected less. Whilst this is perhaps helpful in one sense, it is deeply lacking in compassion on other levels. As human beings, we are worth more than scores and productivity. The demand placed on us to constantly perform, to meet some quota or tick some box is what pushes so heavily on people’s minds and souls, causing issues in both physical and mental health.
So, what do I want today? I want to play my cards. There are so many things in my life that I can’t change. I’ve become ill trying to control the uncontrollable. I’m finished with it. Part of that has come from the ever valuable NHS course I took in 2018, but the rest has come from recognising my own thought patterns, how society has effectively trained me to think and act and working out what it is that I really want. I’m by no means perfect at it, but every day it becomes easier.
For example, when I look in the mirror, I used to think of what I wanted to change (and some days I still do). My body has changed a lot from medication, different ways of moving and different priorities. In 2017, I would be angry at myself every time I ate, leading to my daily meals consisting of an apple and glasses of water. Even then, I still didn’t fit the media ideal of the ‘perfect body’. My eating habits were manifestations of anxiety, depression and severe body dysmorphia.
Today I am more. I am more weight, but I am more me. I am more happy and more present. I am more able to experience and enjoy. I am more than numbers in and out. This was by no means an easy transition and does not mean that anyone else’s situation is less valid. Everyone’s journey is their own. I still struggle and relapse, but I’m continuing to learn and use the skills that I have been taught.
What does this have to do with cards then? Because each of us have an amazing set. To start with, we’re still here. The last few years, we have lost so many bright stars out of the blue. Young people, older people, people with lives, with love, with hope. We have that ‘obligation’ not just to them, but to ourselves, to do the best we can with what we have. If you can only focus on what has gone wrong, what has been lost or what you should have had, you’re gonna lose the game. If I sit and focus on what’s wrong with myself and what I feel I’ve missed in my life, I’m going to miss the rest of it too. I’m not wasting my energy on resentment or trying to change the unchangeable. I’m going to do this exam. I’m going to travel the world. I’m going to change things so that the next generation have fewer barriers. These are my cards and I’m going to play the best I can.
If there’s something you really want to do, but you’re not doing it, ask yourself why not. Maybe you want to change your job, or learn a language. Maybe you want to up sticks and move across the world. Why not? Maybe money is holding you back, or maybe a commitment. Once you have identified the reason why not, then you can ask yourself how. As in, how can I adapt my situation so I can do what I want to do? Maybe it’s a case of working out a financial plan for the next few years to save or pay off debt. Maybe you can set an hour a week aside to do the one thing that you want to do. If you’re unhappy with your life, the only person who can change it is you. If you can’t change the situation, change how you see it. These are the cards you have been dealt and there are ways to do everything. You can help yourself, with your physical health, mental health, financial health and social health.
On a final note, one of the courses I recently tagged along to gave us this quote that the British Olympic Team used in training.
‘I can’t. I won’t. I can. I won.’
By removing the negative ‘t’, you can achieve your goals. There is always a way to win.
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