How I found success.

Written by Sarah Styles – PDA’s QLD Associate Director

This year I was fortunate to win the Sector Innovation Award at the Developing Australian Communities awards gala. My business has just celebrated its second birthday and I am pleased with what we have accomplished in this short time given an overnight success is ten years. While we have much to do in becoming set up then established, we are currently writing a short film, 2 musicals and a series of picture books which will also be toured on stage in Auslan. All this while my body is a full time job. This required the right team of people which I didn’t get until age 43.

Over the years people have been amazed when I share my dreams and aspirations. They assumed i had already achieved a successful music career despite my struggles, which couldn’t be further from the truth. While being seen as enjoying the lifestyle I desired yet did not have is no compensation, it did present me with something I had not considered. How others saw me. Their assumed success was a win and that helped fuel me to do what I could in preparation for the day it was possible. No matter how much my disability affected my body and therefore mental health tempting me to give up, I had to hope for a future opportunity. I was not picky. I would accept what came my way. From age 16 I volunteered in the community to learn whatever I could. I said “yes” to any opportunity. Due to this, I had experiences that I had never dreamed of. They were one off so did not affect my health adversely and they were exciting. 

My disability had not been diagnosed during that time.  Neither had my medical condition, ASD, hearing loss or PTSD. This would not happen until I was 38. This lack of information Hindered any success attempted. It takes years after diagnosis to work out the best management regime for each condition. This then becomes the principal focus. The lack of support also was a hindrance meaning extra years were required to get on my feet.  

Fast forward to 2020 when the world was united by lockdown and the online access the disabled community asked for prior, yet deemed too hard and expensive was now suddenly available to all. The world opened for the first time in my life. It was thrilling to enter the arena as a participant. Often I wasn’t able to be a spectator! Would life begin at 41? This was the time where support started to become available. It was 2 years before the right team came togther. During the 25 years it took to arrive at my future, I had been taking advantage of all free webinars or local workshops run by my council in preparation. I knew with my necessary lifestyle only a small portion of that information was appropriate to me, but I trusted it would be enough and it was.  I leapt into action sure of myself and grateful for the required support. I had sought support my whole life of course and when it didn’t come year after year, I focussed on my wellbeing. It got to the point I didn’t believe it would come. The only option left was to find peace in my reality and make a new life. One possible with little to no help. 

The saying “If you work hard enough you will succeed” is shared a lot yet how much merit does it hold? Yes this character trait is desirable and necessary, yet no one can achieve  goals on their own. Regardless of whether we are poor, disabled,  part of any marginalised group, or well off with health, we all need the correct support to succeed alongside grit. That support tends to be sporadic for those in marginalised groups if available it at all. Once I was at peace with this, my mentality began to improve. I felt at peace. 

So what did it take to be successful? 

1 seeking opportunities and saying yes to whatever is available. 

2 accepting my reality to receive internal peace and happiness even if nothing changed. 

3 finding grit as nothing is achieved without it.

4 trusting the right support would come at the right time and trusting the process to get there. 

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