As I mentioned on Facebook and Twitter a few days ago, I have been accepted as a guest blogger for the MDA Transitions Blog. They feature dozens of writers that post about various aspects of living an independent, successful life as a disabled person. They will be publishing articles I have written exclusively for their website every month or two, so be sure to keep an eye on their blog as you won’t want to miss it. Part of joining their team of writers is submitting a brief biography and some pictures that they will use to create your profile. In my opinion, writing about who you are is one of the most difficult things to do as a writer, and when you are restricted to maybe three good paragraphs it becomes even harder. It was while I was struggling with this arduous task that I had a revelation that deeply moved me, and I would like to share it with you.
I was staring at the blank, pristine page on my computer screen with that blinking cursor taunting me, as I deliberated about how to succinctly answer the question, “Who am I?” This is a huge question with lots of answers, and I had only a few paragraphs to respond. To put it in perspective, I have written over 120 posts with an average of 1,500 words each for www.scottdrotar.com telling you about who I am. This translates to more than 175,000 words, or about 300 single-spaced, 12 font Microsoft Word pages, and I am still going strong. Not only is it a difficult question to answer, but you also have to find a way to talk about how great your life has been without coming across like you are bragging. I think most writers (and I do not even consider myself a “writer” out of respect for writers with actual talent) would rather write about nearly anything else, but sadly, this is something that has to be done from time to time. It was not easy, but I gradually managed to start making some headway. I had gotten to the point in my life when I graduated from the University of Kansas last May, and I was getting ready to discuss Roll Models and the website, when I had an emotional revelation.
As I was reliving the last year of my life in my head, I thought about how a year ago I never would have even considered professional speaking as a career, but now I cannot imagine doing anything else. I thought about the exciting, insightful journey that I have been on the last four months as Roll Models has grown into something I am very proud of. Mostly though, I thought about all of you, my blog readers, Twitter followers, and audience members. The incredible amount of support and encouragement I have had from day one on this endeavor is more than I could have ever hoped for. Your inspiration and reassurances have without a doubt played the largest role in the success I have had, and that is something I will be forever grateful for. As I was thinking about all of this, I found myself nearly overwhelmed by feelings of pride, gratitude, and love to the point that I had to hold back tears. I had this powerful, emotional response because of how thankful I am for everything you have given me by following my blog and believing in me. Thanks to all of you, I have greatly improved my relationships, learned a lot about myself, and made many positive changes in my life.
Through my posts and Roll Models speaking engagements, I have formed new relationships, mended broken ones, and strengthened others. I have gotten to get to know some fascinating people doing some amazing things. Meeting these incredible individuals and discussing our shared passion for helping others, has been inspiring and fun. I have also gotten to fix some relationships that for one reason or another had fallen into disrepair. Getting to reconnect with these old friends, and getting beyond whatever had caused our falling out, has been extremely rewarding and enjoyable. Gaining closure with these people and moving forward amicably has been shockingly freeing as well. Most importantly though, thanks to the outlet provided by my website and Roll Models, I have had the opportunity to tell my loved ones what they mean to me. For whatever reason, the semi anonymous nature of blogging makes it much easier to openly and honestly share my feelings. I have gotten so much closer to my family and close friends over the last few months, and that is something that I cannot thank you enough for.
In addition to the interpersonal benefits that your support has given me by improving my relationships, I have also gained some intrapersonal insights as well. First and foremost, I have found my true calling as a professional storyteller on a mission to help others. While I enjoyed working as a statistical consultant and teacher (or at least, I wasn’t unhappy
doing it), I never felt the fire in my belly that I get when I am working on a Roll Models talk or blog post. I also have never felt as fulfilled and content as I do now. I know that I am doing what I am meant to do, and that if I work hard enough I can make a difference in people’s lives. Secondly, I have gained a whole, new appreciation for the enormous number of things that I have gotten to experience during my life, thanks to my perseverance, strength, and determination. From going off of a diving board, to getting on stage at “Warped Tour,” to meeting Mickey Mouse, I have lived a full, exciting life. These experiences that are collectively a big part of what made me into the man I am today, never would have been possible if not for the mental tools and toughness that I have developed. Remembering this fact, as well as where I have been and what got me there, has helped me to recall all of the numerous life lessons that I have learned along the way (and that I now am passing on to all of you). Lastly, I have a new found spark and zest for life since starting Roll Models. I wake up every day excited to go write a post, prepare a new talk, and work on the website. I feel so proud when people ask me what I do, and I get to say, “I’m a professional speaker and blogger.” I cannot imagine my life now doing anything else, and I would not want to. This new found confidence and fire that you have given me by turning Roll Models into the success it has become, is something I could never repay and will always cherish.
As I have gained these personal insights through your support, I have been motivated to make some positive changes in my life. The biggest changes have been in how I take care of myself. I have started eating better, and I have not only gained roughly five pounds (which is huge for me and very difficult), but I am also eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. Improving my diet has had a noticeable impact on my health that my nurses are very happy about. I am also getting more rest and being more proactive in taking care of my body. Thanks to these improvements I have more energy, feel stronger and happier, and am the healthiest I have been in years. Everyone who sees me now after not seeing me for a month or more comments on how good and strong I look, and they always mention how I have an energy about me that has been missing for a long time. You are what motivated me to make these changes by giving me a reason to make sure I am healthy. I cannot spread my message online or through my talks unless I am strong and well, and your support has fueled my passion so much, that I will do anything to ensure I can pass on my life lessons. Another major improvement I have made in my life is that I am making a point to communicate more with my family. It is a work in progress, but I am definitely emailing, texting, and speaking with them much more often than I used to. If not for the time you have spent reading and following my blog, I never would have realized what is most important to me, which is what catalyzed my desire to correspond more with my parents and siblings.
I could go on for pages about how your belief in me and my dream of being a professional storyteller has changed my life, but I won’t bore you that way. I do want to say, sincerely from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you.” Thank you for believing in a disabled statistician with a desire to help people and the gift of gab. Thank you for sticking with me as I have learned how to be a speaker and blogger and developed my craft. Thank you for hiring an up and coming speaker with no experience but a boatload of passion. Just, thank you. You will never know what a tremendous impact you have made on my life, or how thankful I am for having your support. I promise to continue to cultivate my skills as a speaker and writer, so that I can deliver the highest quality content possible. Although I could never repay the enormous influence you have had on me, I will attempt to do so by pursuing my mission to improve your lives for as long as my body will let me by sharing my thoughts and experiences with you. If I can bring even a fraction of the positive energy that you have brought me, I will be a happy man.