I’m a little over two years into this Instagram blogger thing. (When I say it like that, I have to wince. Instagram blogger - bleh - but you get the point…) I’ve grown a lot through sharing my story, met some awesome people, and learned quite a bit about myself.
Now, more than ever, the questions I get from people have started to shift from “what made you start this whole Instagram/blog thing?” to “what’s next?” I think a lot of that shift can be attributed to the Nike video that was posted as a part of their Sport Changes Everything campaign. People want to know how that video even came to be, if I’m a sponsored athlete (the answer is no), and if I’m going to use that as momentum to continue onward to bigger things. If not, was that video the highlight of my Instagram career?! (Lololol, ya gotta love being alive in 2019.)
For anyone who has been with me since I first started, you mayyyy have noticed that my blog posts became much less frequent in the last year. About 3 months ago, I took away the website altogether. I honestly wasn’t quite sure why I was posting anymore, if anyone actually read them, or if I wanted to continue with it. After some time off, I’ve decided to give it another go. This isn’t one of those “I’ve lost my way and now I’m back!” blog posts. Honestly, it’s just me checking in again.
I had a conversation with someone this week who challenged me to step up rather than back away from any recognition that the Nike video has given me. After asking why I haven’t looked into more partnership opportunities with other companies, I used my go-to line: “I’m not great at advocating for myself like that. I feel like it’s bragging.” (I know I know, I’m so incredibly humble. I for SURE would NEVER use that line as an excuse to hide any fear or laziness on my part. Never.)
Thankfully, he didn’t let me get away with it. His reply was, “Why is it bragging on yourself if you’re just sharing your story? If you have something to say, then say it and then use that influence to actually help other kids to do what you’ve done.”
Talk about a reality check. If I’m going to be brutally honest, sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in enjoying the praise of others that I don’t hold myself accountable to why I have any sort of platform in the first place. It’s fun to post pictures of my best self, taken by a professional photographer who caught just the right angle at just the right time. I would be straight up LYING if I said I didn’t enjoy posting those photos. In grade school, I was never the girl who got called a “badass” or any type of an athlete. So, the inner band geek in me enjoys those compliments. And you know, those photos aren’t a lie - it’s 100% me, but they’re also not the whole story of me.
There’s also the part of me that, practically speaking, is still trying to figure out how to fix the skin breakdown on my residual limb because the weather is changing and it can make it pretty uncomfortable to sweat and work through that. Also currently trying to figure out how to stop by prosthesis from making this weird clicking noise because, quite frankly, my prosthesis is in desperate need of a check-up and I keep putting off scheduling my next appointment. The more recognition I get from family, friends and also people I don’t know, the harder it is to post about those things. It’s not inspiring or sexy, and quite frankly, I’d rather just post a photo that makes me feel good about myself.
But at the end of the day, that’s not why I’m here. Yes, I’m here to share how far I’ve come in my fitness level and in my confidence. But while doing so, my ultimate rule has stayed the same: be 100% honest and genuine to who I am. I want girls and guys who may be missing a limb or overcoming an obstacle to read my posts, see my photos and videos and think, “I can do that too.” The moment I make my life look perfect or unattainable is the moment I’ve failed as an “influencer.” I cannot stress this enough… if you use a prosthesis and you want to try new things: just go DO it. It will look messy and sometimes you’ll get told no and you will most definitely feel incompetent a LOT of the time. But do it anyway. The biggest thing holding you back from trying new things and growing as a person is yourself. It’s not insurance, it’s not other people in your life, and it’s not even the inevitable complications that come with your prosthesis. (Although believe me, I know from personal experience how difficult those things are.) You experience personal change when you decide to make the DAILY decision to push yourself past your comfort zone.
Maybe that looks different than me. Maybe you don’t want to workout or kick box; maybe challenging yourself means wearing a skirt in public for the first time, or swimming at a public pool, or going on a date for the first time since your amputation. Those things can be just as life changing as it was for me to start working out in public. Just don’t settle because you’re afraid of failing or of
what you will look like in the process.
So if I’m going to step off of my pedestal and “practice what I preach,” what does that mean for me? What’s next? For starters, it means posting about subjects that aren’t so easy to talk about but are important for other prosthetic-limb users to hear. It also means that I do more than “talk” about partnering with more companies that create prosthetic equipment and advocate for amputees. It means searching them out and finding out how I can get involved on a personal level. I want to try new equipment that helps me do things like run, ski, and even surf (all on the bucket list). It means finding how to make expensive, non-insured equipment accessible to myself, so that I can in-turn tell other people how to make it accessible for themselves as well.
So guys, that’s where I’m at for now. Excited for the future, even as I’m unsure of what exactly it will look like. But I’m pretty sure that’s life for everyone anyway, regardless of how many limbs you have. So here goes…happy Sunday everyone!