That depends what is meant by the word ‘grow’.
Does it mean change and develop as a person by choice, or does it also include change that was not by choice?
Change by choice
Easy. When I decided to lose 30kg and take up triathlon. This little decision took my life path on a completely different route. I have competed internationally, visited countries that I would never have otherwise travelled to and made lifelong friends on the way.
I ran my first half marathon 3 months after deciding to take up exercise. Within 6 months I was selected for GB as an age group triathlete, having only taken up the sport quite recently before that. The ability to travel with team GB was ultimately what attracted me to New Zealand, eventually resulting in me emigrating here in 2013.
Countries I have competed in when I was an Age Group triathlete for GB
- New Zealand (before I actually lived here)
- Southern Ireland
Since being forced to retire as an AG athlete, sport has continued to play a pivotal role in my life.
It has been my therapy – in some very dark times. It has been (and continues to be) my mental health go-to. There is no doubt that without it I am a much more unhappy individual. Therefore I am, and always will be, very driven to find a way to keep it in my life despite adversity.
Change not by choice
There is no doubt that this has completely changed me as a person. I guess that can be expected when I have been through what I have been through.
[RECAP: in 2018 I began having problems with my left foot. I was ignored by medical professionals for 10 months before someone actually listened & sent me to the right place. 8 surgeries over the next 3 months to try and save the leg were unsuccessful. Too littlest too late. Left leg below knee amputation Oct 2020]
I was forced to..
- Accept the mental health issues that came with this and learn how to live with them.
- Completely rebuild my life as an individual.
- Learn self love all over again.
- Forge a brand new physical identity.
- Learn brand new ways of doing absolutely EVERYTHING.
- Forgive / learn acceptance of the things that were done to me.
- Fight for justice.
- Learn to make peace and let go of my old able bodied dreams.
There is only one thing that is certain in life: nothing will ever stay the same. It is how we cope with and embrace these constant changes that make us who we are today.