As a 19-year survivor of severe traumatic brain injury years I have taken a lot of L’s over the years. I have experienced the loss of ambulation, the loss of motion on the left side of my body, loss of job(s), loss of friendships, loss of family, and sometimes the loss of emotional control. With that being said, I have learned to get better at accepting these life lessons. Not because taking a ‘L’ is meant to deter your progress, but to make one concentrate and create a plan to get over life’s next hurdle. I do not want anyone to think my recovery was easier than another survivor’s or that my physical and mental challenges do not compare to anyone else. However, my will to win, along with a personal understanding knowing how much time and effort goes into building myself up again. I also know practice makes perfect! I am very sure that my faith along with the faith of those who supported me was critical! I’ve learned that the brain is a very resilient organ that can get better if you are able to successfully rehab it and the body parts connected to it. It’s important to remember the challenges we face aren’t there to make us give up, but they are there to push us to see how much we want to regain certain parts of our life. Every opportunity that I’ve been blessed with did not show themselves because I stayed inside my house sulking after brain injury. They showed up because I was determined to get out of the house to find a new job, regain movement on the left side of my body, influence survivors and future clinicians, go back to graduate school, be a competitive bowler, and be certified on a Microsoft ERP software application, AGAIN.
While I have taken my share of L’s before and after brain injury, I have not let them define who I am or what I am able to achieve in life. After I was let go from my first job post-injury, it did not make me want to stop working. It reminded me that it was not the job for me but was a stair step to get back to the type of work I was doing for pre-injury. I know it is hard to have this kind of forethought when you are trying to get back to your comfort zone, but you have to have faith and believe in yourself more than anyone else. You know they say that what comes around, goes around. If you want to receive help in life, you need to help others. Before I started working again, I tried to give back to survivors at the rehab hospital as a volunteer peer counselor. I also sat on a panel of disabled adults who shared their life experiences with PT and OT students. And after another job loss, I decided to go back to graduate school to finish a master’s degree I previously started. Once I was able to find a full-time job with benefits, I made time for outpatient rehab to get my body strong again. When I started taking public transportation to work, I read books during my trip, which exercised my brain. Exercise is critical to the body and the brain!
In order for me to get the most out of life physically and mentally was to keep improving, little by little. I knew what I wanted in life post-injury, but I had to go for it! I could not be satisfied with attaining a few of my goals. I had to reach all of my goals! That was going to put me in position to live life again. I knew everything I was trying to accomplish was working together for my good. I believed working a job that did not push or expect more from me that I expected of myself was not a good career fit. I needed to be put in a position where I knew how to perform the majority of the job functions, but I had to be hungry to learn and be comfortable taking on more responsibilities. I needed to learn a new skill, or perfect one of my current skills. I have to do what I can to keep my skills current and to keep myself marketable! Just because I am not the same physically dominant person I was pre-injury does not mean I should become complacent with the cards I was dealt and stop trying to make life better for me or my family!
It’s ok to take a ‘L’ because we can’t win them all! But you should not let the ‘L’ define your life story. When circumstances, challenges, situations, or people get you down, it says so much more when you respond in a way that lets people know that you haven’t given up. My almost 20 years post-injury have been about proving people wrong! I can proudly say that I have taken a few L’s in life, but if you ask anyone about the L’s I have suffered, they will tell you what I have done in response to those L’s and the attitude I kept! Charles Swindoll says it best, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.
Keep pushing survivors!!
Very encouraging. Thanks for sharing
Thanks for reading my blog!
HE’S BACK !!!!!!! I’ve missed reading your blogs. Hope all is well with you & Alicia. Great article to jump back into things. It should be one ALL people should read regardless of any disability or not. Failures & “L’s” are a part of life….it’s truly what you do with it and how you grow after them that count.
Great advice and wisdom for all of us.