I have always believed that the people you surround yourself with help to shape the person you are. Sometimes, we don’t realise how lucky we are until we take a step back. And I’m pretty bloody lucky to call some of these people friends.
It is an utter privilege to have such strong mentors around me in many areas of my life. Just the other week, a few of us were brainstorming ways of getting around barriers and challenges to make a difference in the diabetes community. Not just locally or nationally but internationally as well. That’s pretty mind-blowing when you think about it.
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I struggled to find relevant support for myself. I was dealing with the stigma of diabetes, not just from others, but from my own preconceived ideas as well. During this time, the psychosocial wellbeing of people with diabetes wasn’t really talked about.
I was upset at the lack of support and started a Facebook group for young adults with type 2 diabetes. I also started sharing my experiences of living with diabetes as a young adult. I felt that it was (and still is!) important that people understand that diabetes is complex and complicated. Especially other people with diabetes and healthcare professionals so we can work together towards something bigger.
Fast forward to today and I’ve been involved with the International Diabetes Federation, I’m leading the start up another global group called Beta Change, almost have my PhD under my belt that focussed on young adults with diabetes during life transitions, am still volunteering with Diabetes Camps Victoria to ensure kids and families with children with diabetes know there is more to life than a chronic condition and am still having fun with the OzDOC crew. From small things, big things grow right?
I couldn’t be where I am today without my mentors, my role models and my support network. There is always something to learn from everyone. From trying a strategy you’ve seen used successfully, learning from others’ mistakes, or having an experienced mentor guide you through a process. I have learned that being observant and reflective is key to growing as a person. Having a wide variety of insights and perspectives can help me to understand a person’s choice of actions or words.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for all these people in my life. I am truly humbled for all the opportunities that have poked its head out to me. Now I know it’s up to me to keep working hard and smashing new goals. Here’s to another brilliant, challenging and rewarding year!