My story starts about nine years ago, when I had come out of a `difficult` relationship and was enjoying life again. I was determined not to have wasted fifteen years of my life and so wrote a short story about my experiences. I can tell you that it didn`t make for an easy read, but I found the writing process kind of cathartic and when I`d finished, I put my story away and forgot about it.
Fast forward eight years and to an elderly friend who I had known for some time and who was just the sweetest lady.
When she started to forget names of people and places she had been to, her husband took her to the doctors and she was diagnosed with dementia.
Her deterioration was hard to witness and when her husband died suddenly, she went into a care home and then a nursing home. Eventually she recognised no one and completely lost touch with reality, although she seemed content and rocked a doll as though it were her child.
I had a lot of emotion that I needed to express and so out came my pen again and I wrote a story about old age and dementia. My friend`s experience was still very raw in my mind and so I changed my main character to a man – which helped me write from a more detached perspective.
I also wanted to give the elderly a voice. I watched how my Mother was often ignored or spoken down to and she said that since she had gotten old, she felt invisible.
When I had finished writing, I mentioned the stories to a friend of mine, who is a film director and he asked to read the scripts.
He suggested finding a well known person to play the lead role and thought that Bobby Ball would be ideal. At the time I recall thinking “Fat chance somebody famous would ever agree to be in my film”. Horrible, negative attitude, I know, but I still struggle with self esteem issues.
This could have been the end of the story, as it`s so easy to get demoralised and give up on your dreams. Sometimes it just feels as though everything is conspiring against you and the easiest thing is just to give up and find something else to do. I don`t think my years in an abusive relationship helped, as I still carried the mental scars and it takes a long time to rebuild self esteem when it has been shattered so many times.
It really was an effort, but I decided that whatever had happened in the past wasn`t going to affect my future and if ever I paid heed to those little voices – you know the ones that are always telling you that you can`t do something or you`ll never be good enough – if I ever caught myself listening to them, I`d give myself a good talking to and tell myself how great I was. I didn`t always believe it, but it`s better than criticising yourself all the time.
So, these are the 3 things I have learned from this experience, but they apply to pretty much anything that you want to achieve.
1. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
It`s so hard when you`re working on your own and it`s something you`ve never done before. If your confidence is shaky to start with, the first knock back is likely to send you scurrying in the opposite direction. But don`t. Have faith in yourself – everyone has to start somewhere and you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
2. DON`T GIVE UP
Oh, it`s so easy to make excuses as to why you should just give up – and yes, it would be easier. But, I`m telling you, the sense of achievement you get with each step forward and with each bridge you cross, is just amazing. Keep going, no matter how tough it gets and you will have an advantage over thousands of people who try, but give up too easily.
3. MAKE FRIENDS
It`s when you need help and when you reach out to people, that you realise how many friends you`ve got – or haven`t got in my case. I should have networked like mad to get the word out, but I didn`t and I had to work so much harder to catch up. Make new friends and get in touch with people you haven`t spoken to in a while.
Surround yourself with only people who have a positive outlook on life as negative folks will bring you down and you will start to doubt yourself.