How do you feel when you think about changing something in your life? Does the thought of moving to a new location or traveling overseas make you anxious? How about the feeling you get when contemplating a career change or following your passion?
In my own life, I have found that change can be the hardest obstacle to tackle. It is confronting and throws me outside my comfort zone, but I’ve learned over time and from harsh experience that the grey area, that unfamiliar space beyond what I know, is actually where I learn the most about myself.
Recently, after two years living in Canberra, I decided to move to Melbourne. In Canberra I had successfully set myself up with the perfect training environment for my Paratriathlon goals: I lived and studied on campus at the University of Canberra and worked in a job I enjoyed. My long-distance relationship, however, was becoming more challenging (and costly) so I decided to take a risk and leave the comfortable environment in search of something new and exciting, the next chapter in my life.
Sadly, my relationship ended soon after moving to Melbourne. As if moving to a new city as a vision-impaired person wasn’t challenging enough! This is when I truly found myself uncomfortable, unsure and having to call on all my courage to make decisions and move forward.
What should I do next? Should I move back to Canberra and settle back into the comfortable life I was enjoying before? That seemed too easy. I firmly believed that everything in life happens for a reason and that it was up to me to interpret this experience in order to move forward. Instead of focusing on my feeling of dismay and disappointment, I deliberately chose to see it as opportunity. I was in Melbourne for a reason. It was up to me to get out and find the opportunities on offer.
A few months have since passed and whilst the move was initially very challenging, I now feel confident and reassured. In this new phase of my life, I am happier than I’ve ever been. I’m exceeding expectations in my chosen sport, working with amazing people, and immersing myself in the disability and sporting networks.
I’m at this point because I empowered myself to do what was necessary, I challenged myself, and I focused on creating a new environment which could help me achieve my athletic and disability advocacy goals.
Part of the process has been making sacrifices – of time, of comfort, of paid work – but this is my story and my journey, and I feel that I’m on the right track.
As Ambassador to the Save Sight Institute I’m proud to be able to make a difference to other vision impaired young people. I’m focused on proving that vision loss doesn’t hold you back from sporting greatness, and I know that my story is just beginning!
My advice to anyone considering or avoiding change in their life is to embrace disruption, trust yourself and connect with others. Try something new today and decide to be positive about it – whatever happens you’ll be learning and transforming and that’s what life is all about!