50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind – Question 2

In 2011 I came accross 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to start answering them on my blog. I only actually answered the 1st three before abandoning the project but it’s something I’ve wanted to restart for a while. Having just decided to restart I chose to answer the questions I did before as well as the others but I didn’t read what I wrote in 2011 until after I finished writing this.

WHICH IS WORSE: FAILING OR NEVER TRYING

For the most part I’d say never trying is worse than failing.  I’ve done many things that I’ve found difficult.  I’ve done many things that people have said I’d never be able to do.  And sometimes after never being able to do something I’ve finally figured it out.

I love wearing my hair in two plaits.  But up until a couple of weeks ago I could never plait my hair.  I don’t know why I couldn’t do it.  And I don’t know what changed but one Wednesday night I thought “i wish I could plait my hair” and started playing with it and something obviously clicked because I managed it.  It’s not easy.  It gets messy and I often have to redo it a few times before I get it right (in fact I often have to redo it so many times I give up and revert to a ponytail or something else) but it’s something ticked off the list.

If I never did something because I was worried about failing I’d have never achieved anything in my life.  One thing about being disabled is that a lot of people have very low expectations of you. Lower than they should in my opinion. I’ve proved many people wrong.  Sometimes it’s been a mistake but other times it’s worked.  The times when it’s worked can be divided into “yeah I probably shouldn’t try that again cos it worked but was sorta dodgy” and “yup that can be done again”.

Others who don’t really understand disability may have unrealistically high expectations of what you should be able to do if only you would try.  That’s something I’ve experienced but as someone who has always been disabled in a way that is very obvious (wheelchair user) I suspect I get this less often than those who have less visible and/or more recent disabilities.

I might on a very good day be able to do a bit of walking. I’m talking maybe 5 metres. But that doesn’t mean I should always try to do it.  Because it takes a lot of my energy and it causes pain.  Because I have little balance and can’t manage to do things if I’m not in my wheelchair (my wheelchair being better than a regular chair because it’s very supportive and set right for me). So many people would probably see it as worth it to walk and get to go to a place my wheels won’t go.  But if doing so means I don’t enjoy what I’m doing because I’ve used so much energy. Or if worse it means I can’t manage to do things like make food later it’s not worth it.

So, yes. I think it’s better to fail than to never try.  But at the same time I think it’s very important to recognise when the cost of trying may be too. much.

It’s a boundary that for me is ever changing and I’m still learning about.  I’m not sure I’ll ever pin it down fully.  I get it wrong a lot but that’s ok.  I view it as something like a tightrope.  I’m trying to balance on it and not hurt myself but sometimes by putting so much focus on getting it right I might make it harder for myself or miss out on things that I wouldn’t if I didn’t just relax and enjoy the experience.

Having written this I just went back and read my answer from 2011. The answers are basically the same but it would seem my attitude to the possibility of not trying has changed and I’m more open to that idea.  Possibly because I’m more aware of the possibility of getting hurt and the problems that can cause? Interesting.  I only have one more of these questions left to reanswer.  I think I might miss having the comparision for the other 47. Maybe anyways.

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind – Question 1

In 2011 I came accross 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to start answering them on my blog. I only actually answered the 1st three before abandoning the project but it’s something I’ve wanted to restart for a while. Having just decided top restart I chose to answer the questions I did before as well as the others but I didn’t read what I wrote in 2011 until after I finished writing this.

HOW OLD WOULD YOU BE IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE?

How old would I be if I didn’t know how old I was? Well, I’d have difficulty telling you how old I was is what I think!

But seriously, right now I think I would be as old as I am now if I got to choose my age (which is what I basically think the question is asking).

The last few days have been a bit of a struggle. I got a phone call on Friday asking me for feedback on something I did last year that was a very bad experience for me. I was glad after fighting for so long to be listened to and failing to achieve that to finally have a chance to be heard. Especially because it had been so tough at the time. And I finally felt like I was listened to with no excuses and without people jumping to conclusions before I finished. The person I spoke to said several times about things that they shouldn’t have happened. I got an apology too which was good. I was pleased to be listened to and I hope that maybe my experience will help the next disabled person they get have a better experience. But all of this was just too little, too late for me. Add in the fact that I’m pretty tired at the moment as I’ve been busy and I also had a very fun but very long day out in London with friends last week and it’s safe to say that phone call stirred up some emotions and memories I could probably have done with out.

But the last few days have also been really fun. Mum and I went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical on Friday night. It was so much fun. Best musical I’ve seen in a very long time for sure! And for various reasons I had to take my manual rather than my powerchair. I was pissed off about that to be honest which is a subject I need to write more about in a separate entry. I had planned to meet a friend I’ve not seen for ages for cocktails before the show but as I couldn’t take the powerchair had to cancel. Plus I felt like it would be really difficult not being in it in terms of getting around because it’s a bit of a trek from where we get dropped off to the theatre and Oxford paths aren’t the best. But the Oxford paths have been improved and I’ve obviously still got it when it comes to wheeling my manual because it wasn’t as easy as I’d like and it took longer than I’d like but I managed getting around better than I expected and needed less help from Mum then either of us had anticipated. Major win, I was really pleased.

And London was amazing but again needs to have it’s own separate entry (just as soon as I download the photos from my camera!)

The point I’m trying to make in this round about way is that at my current age there have been struggles and there have been good times. And the same was true when I was 5 or 12 or 17 or 27 or 30. At those ages things were different to what they’re like now I’m 31. 32, 34, 41, 72 those ages will all bring different things to me too.

There are things in my past I’d like to change – I wonder a lot what my life would be like if I’d gone to a different school for secondary school (or even if the school I did go to had had a better way of handling disabilty rather than the emotionally abusive way they did). But that doesn’t mean I want to go back to age 11 and start again with a different school. And there are things I’d like to achieve with my life that I don’t see happening for another couple of years. Sometimes it makes me sad that both of my siblings have (or will have) big events in their lives this year and I don’t. But that’s not about me wanting to move in with a partner or get married. It’s simply about the fact they’re doing new exciting things and my life feels a little boring right now. They probably felt the same with some things I’ve done that they haven’t.

No, if I didn’t know how old I was I think I’d choose to still be the age I am now. I’ve had great experiences and tough ones. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and sometimes I wish things would happen to me now that can’t. But I wouldn’t want to go back and change what has been – I wouldn’t want to erase the experiences that have helped shape where I am and who I am now. And as much as I dream of the day when I get a novel published or have something else huge happen in my life I don’t want to skip forward to whatever age I’ll be when that happens. Because something totally unexpected but really awesome might happen to me tomorrow morning and if I skipped the bits of my life I think right now are boring I could miss out on that too.

After finishing writing this I went back and looked at the entry I wrote answering this question in 2011. I was very surprised to see I’d described this as one of my least favourites on the list.  There are a few similarities in my answer but a few differences. Overall it didn’t surprise me.

>50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind: Question 3

>I recently came across 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to make answering them one of the goals on my current 101 in 1001 list.

I’m going to try to answer one question a week. You can find the other answers I’ve written so far here

3. If life is so short why do we do some many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?


Why indeed? Duty, honour, integrity. Because we feel we must? I think it’s probably all of those things and more.

Lately I’ve been trying to put myself first more and worry less about things I should be doing because either society believes I should or I feel like I need to.  Things like taking on others problems and being a shoulder to cry on.

I did a good job of that today when I met a very newly disabled person who obviously needed some info and support.  I told her one or two very basic bits and gave her the Advice Guide website URL.  With others in similar situations I’ve offered my e-mail or phone number (although those were people I knew a little better and knew I would see again, this lady I may not see again).  Part of this is the CAB adviser in me – I know where to go to claim housing benefit, how to fill out a DLA form that sort of thing so what does it cost me to say “oh contact the council to sort out HB” etc etc? I don’t (and won’t) do proper advice but I do pass on bits that are easily found otherwise or sometimes tell people things from my own experience today – e.g. I told the lady today that DLA forms are depressing because you have to share how bad things are and it helps to get someone else to help you with it – I’d never do a disability related assessment form without help.

I do enjoy my CAB work (most of the time, obviously not always) and I get a lot out of it – it can be very rewarding.  And sometimes helping friends is nice too.  But I am cutting that down a lot (well, as I said I’m trying to) because it gets draining, especially when you have to keep telling people the same thing.  It’s not always easy to say no, especially when people go “hey, Emma knows about that (or might do)” but that’s the society expecting people to do things again.

I suppose the other thing to think about with this question is “Would we be happy if we did what we enjoy and didn’t do what we don’t?”  And I think the answer is yes.  Realistically we couldn’t just do things we like and not do things we hate as much as we’d all like to.

Tim McGraw has a song called Live Like You’re Dying.  I really love that song.  It’s about making the most of what time you do have, enjoy it and truly live.

(lyrics on the you tube page)

The thing is though if we all “lived like we were dying” we would be happier, more fulfilled and perhaps even happier because we wouldn’t be as stressed.  But only in the short term.  Because at some point society would fall apart.  Maybe we wouldn’t have clean clothes.  Or the shops would run out of food.  Or there wouldn’t be public transport because no one wanted to drive the buses.

Sometimes we have to spend time doing things we hate, or aren’t keen on (hate maybe to strong of a word) because it’s what we need to do to survive.  I think however that it can be hard to determine how much is enough and when we really can say no.

There are obviously times when we can’t do what we’d really love for legitimate reasons.  Others when we kid ourselves that it’s legitimate but really it’s not.  No one wants to be thought of as lazy or a scrounger or anything like that.  But everyone wants to be happy.  I think the true answer to this question lies in the fact that we’re all (me especially) fighting to find a way to balance those two things – and finding it hard to do so equally.

This is a tough one to answer but those are some of my thoughts 😉

>50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind: Question 2

>I recently came across 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to make answering them one of the goals on my current 101 in 1001 list. I’m going to try to answer one question a week.  You can find the other answers I’ve written so far here

2. Which is worse failing or never trying?

Failure isn’t important.  What’s worse here is not trying to do something for fear of failure.  That’s the short answer – you have to try.  If you don’t try you automatically fail and you do so worse than if you try and it doesn’t work out

Many times in my life I’ve been told I won’t be able to do X or I can’t do Y.  Because I’m disabled.  I’m different to everyone else and  obviously a girl in a wheelchair couldn’t do what everyone else is doing.  And obviously the people saying no couldn’t help but no better about my limitations than me.  And obviously they couldn’t possible adapt things.

A lot of these are things that I’ve then gone and found a way.  I might not have managed it all, it might have taken a lot of help and it might not have been the best ever but I did it in some way shape or form – my way.

Sometimes it’s gone very wrong and I’ve regretted all or part of it – my trip to Madrid a couple of years ago is a bit like that.  I tried it, I loved it and it mostly worked but with two falls in the three and a half days I was there (one of which left me sore for days and necessitated an ambulance being called although I thankfully avoided the trip to hospital) it’s very obvious that I should have looked further into access and adaptations so I could have avoided some of the problems.  I regret that part but I don’t regret the trip.  Looking back now if someone said “hey we’ll back it so you didn’t lose control and  flip your chair and land on your face and crack a tooth and have blood gushing from both sides of your nose and a black eye BUT it’ll mean you don’t go on the trip to Madrid at all” would I take them up on that offer?  No because the first fall was one of those incidental ones that have no effects and yes I have bad memories of the second and all that surrounded it but I have great memories of the rest of the trip and I had fun – even after that accident.  You’ve gotta take the good with the bad as they say.

Occasionally when people say I can’t do something and I think I can they will stop me from trying.  That is so, so frustrating.  It can turn out to be the right thing however – the time at uni I was sure there was a way I could try ice skating and my support worker basically said “no way you’ll break your arm” was definitely one of those times.  I’m equally sure that there are times when that was probably the wrong decision – but I’ll never actually know for sure!

On The Great British Bake Off recently one of the contestants was saying that she tells children (I think she’s a teacher of some sort?) that they can’t all be THE best but they can all try THEIR best.

If I try something and I fail I at least know I’ve done my best and given it a go.  If I refuse to try I’ve not done my best, I’ve not done anything.  And that contestant on the Great British Bake Off was right – you should try your best whenever possible.

Besides, as someone who grew up with a disability and who will be disabled all her life – if I didn’t try and fight like I do I wouldn’t be half an independant as I am now – or have done anything like everything I have.  Yes, failure sucks.  But trying is what matters.

>50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind – Question 1

>I recently came across 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to make answering them one of the goals on my current 101 in 1001 list. I’m going to try to answer one question a week.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

This is a tricky question and one of my least favourite on the list but I decided to work through the list in order so I’ll give it a shot.

I’m 29, I’ll be 30 in December.

I think in many ways growing up with a disability meant that I learned certain life lessons earlier than the majority of people do. For the most part I see this as a good thing. On the flip side having CP meant that some childhood and teenage experiences or perhaps rites of passage were out of my reach. Some I have now experienced and others I haven’t. This used to be something that really bothered me but it doesn’t as much now. Partially because I’ve come to realise that they aren’t all they are cracked up to be (in some cases) and that a lot of people are in similar positions to me.

But the question relates to age. I think the experiences I “missed out on” if you will made me younger than my age – or at least they did when I was a teenager. The thing is though, that’s part of being a teenager – firsts, lasts and bluster and bravado about what you have and haven’t done.

Equally learning the life lessons early – about rights, fairness, trust, access etc. Meant I grew up quicker than my peers. Because I knew about relying on people who were meant to help you and being let down and I knew I didn’t have an automatic right to do what everyone else was, that sort of thing.

I think as an adult those two things are less of an issue than they used to be. They’ve played a big role in making me who I am but now they’re in the past and rarely come out. I do think in someways I am very fucked up and this played a part in it. That said I said that to one of my besties last week and she said she didn’t think I’m at all fucked up. So I must be doing better than I realise. Or doing a really good job of hiding it.

I also think actual age becomes little more than a number once you get well into your twenties. I have friends who are younger than me by several years , ones who are older than my parents and everything in between. Obviously we have different life experiences to each other and bring different aspects to our interactions. But even if all of my friends were turning 30 in December like me that would still be true.

So if I didn’t know how old I am, what age would I say? Mid twenties. I like where I am in my life right now and for the most part I like who I am. That’ll do me.

Unless, of course, the question gave you a do over and let you go back to where and what you were at that age. In which case I’d choose 18 and just off to uni. Those years were very important to me – and a hell of a lot of fun!