In an interview, Matthew McConaughey said his biggest hero is him ten years from now. This resonates with me. When I think of a hero in my life, I automatically think of the person I am and the person I am continuously developing into. To me, a hero is someone who shows courageous strength, even when the future is uncertain. A person who values the impact they leave on the individuals they serve. A hero is a person who, regardless of their fears or the doubt in their success, shows up anyway. An individual that continuously exhibits mental grit is a hero. Heroes are all around us.
Had you asked me this question 6 years ago, I’m sure my answer would NOT be the same. After the accident that left me a paraplegic, my once determined future became unclear in an instant. I struggled to change my lifestyle to accommodate my disability. I lost not only the use of my legs but my bowel and bladder control as well as the perceived “control” I had over my life. I had to relearn everything I previously knew about day to day functions. Various examples of everyday tasks I had to remaster were how to get my pants on, use a catheter to pee, how to poop, how to shower, get in and out of bed or a car, and how to use a wheelchair. Refusing to accept the reality of my life-changing injury, I overlooked my physical and mental health and wellness.
One of my biggest struggles as a wheelchair user was the amount I fell out of my wheelchair. Sometimes my legs would get caught wrong when transferring out of bed, sucking me to the floor. If I had a bladder infection, it would cause my legs to spasm straight out, flipping me over backward. Getting myself from the floor to my wheelchair was near impossible. While traveling, I fell on a hotel room floor. After struggling a few minutes, I recorded a rant (later posted to youtube), about the unseen struggles of my day to day life with a disability. The video had thousands of views within days. After realizing the number of people I could reach, I decided to make a lifestyle change. I added physical activity to my daily life. I began paying close attention not only to my physical diet but my mental diet, paying close attention to the content I consumed. In the moment of my lifestyle change, the long-term impact this would have on my entire existence wasn’t realized.
Today I am in the best physical and mental shape of my life, finding self-gratification in the process of continued growth. I have let go of every judgment I had of others and myself. I have let others’ opinions realizing they do not determine my happiness (unless I allow them to). I have learned how to evaluate a situation rather than react right away. I have learned not to respond to negativity. When I reflect on who I was, at 22 years old, after a life-transforming injury to the woman I am today, I am inspired. I inspire myself with my drive and desire to help others. The passion I carry throughout my day to day life. My resilience in the face of adversity. And my commitment to being the best version of ME. Reflecting on the challenges I have faced and overcome, my heart, and who I am continuing to grow into, I am my biggest hero.