09 Sep Don’t let others define you – and don’t let life’s challenges stop your ambitions
If you are a teen with a long-term condition, it can be easy to let other people (and your condition) define who you are.
That’s the message from Nicola, who is kindly sharing her story of living with epilepsy, starting her own business and learning to thrive thanks to a positive mindset. In this blog, we’ll be looking at the message: Don’t let others define you – and don’t let life’s challenges stop your ambitions.
I was diagnosed as epileptic at the age of four. At high school, I began to feel very different to other people. Nobody understood it. At times my family didn’t understand it because the anticonvulsant medication I was taking could make me feel moody. I was quite a rebellious teenager.
I came out of school with four GCSEs – English Language and Literature, Home Economics and History. I started to bunk off towards the end of school because it felt like people had given up on me.
I became very difficult and left home at 17. I fought with my mum a lot so it felt like I needed to.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” Dale Carnegie
I got a job but the penny dropped that I wasn’t going to go anywhere in life unless I went back and started learning.
I found that I was being treated differently at work, and people thought of me in one way because of my epilepsy. I thought, “I’ll show you.” I went to night school and got qualifications in typing and Maths.
But I was very busy – I was working full time, I got married at 21, had my daughter at 22, I lost my mum at 26. My fits spiralled out of control. I was referred for brain surgery, but it wasn’t possible, although I was sent to London to learn about what epilepsy does to the brain when you have a fit. I spoke to a specialist who explained what sort of epilepsy I have.
Once I understood what was happening to me it’s like there was a new empowerment. There was a fuller understanding.
“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas Edison
I got made redundant and found another job. Yet again, I had to cope with other people’s attitudes that, somehow, I was different.
I think it was ignorance. I’m not an unkind person, I really do like who I am and yes, I have these fits but actually I’m just like you.
After having to constantly battle with my employers, and cutting down my hours, I decided to start my own business.
I wasn’t being fully utilised and my skills were not recognised. I thrive being on the phone and speaking to people, it’s a real strength of mine, and I just knew there was more.
I was approached by someone who wanted to outsource to me, and that’s how it all started. Basically, I do all the telephone work, get my clients speaking to who they need to speak to and make appointments on their behalf.
It’s been the most exhilarating and exciting time. I feel like I’ve been released.
“You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.” Babe Ruth
I’m a great believer that if someone isn’t healthy around you, if someone can’t accept you and you’ve really got to battle to make people understand you, then actually you’re wasting your energy. You need to move on.
I’m really excited about my business. I want to continue with that and I passionately want to get involved in the equality side of things.
Does Nicola’s story ring true for you or someone you know?
Do you work or live with a teenager with a long-term condition? Can we support you in helping them to achieve their full potential and career ambitions? Get in touch with us on 0330 1002821 if you’d like to discover more.
Choose the life you want to lead
What do you think of Nicola’s story? Has she inspired you? Could you ever imagine running your own business and if so, what would you do? Share your thoughts with our social media community.
Always remember that you are you and you are unique in a magnificent way, so don’t let others define you. Until next time, stay true to yourself and enjoy life to the max.