Following on from Martyn’s recent article, DH co-editor, Srin Madipalli, shares an article with his thoughts on the year that has been.
As I write this article, it is New Year’s Eve. A perfect time to reflect a little on the year that has been and look ahead at what the next year might hold.
Looking back at 2011, the first thought that springs to mind is general disbelief that the year is already coming to an end. New Year’s Eve 2010 seems like yesterday and it does not feel like it has been a year since I returned from my trip around the world!
However, irrespective of my opinion as to how fast it went, the year is coming to an end, and the second thought that springs to mind is just how action packed it has been on both a personal level and a more worldly level.
The first year of being a qualified lawyer
This has been the first year I have been a fully qualified lawyer in the City of London. I had been a trainee for the previous two years. Being fully qualified has meant the workload and level of responsibility has markedly increased. The economic climate has resulted in the transactions I’ve worked on being more time pressured and more complex. The working hours, at times, have been intense and working weekends and being glued to my blackberry has been commonplace.
While it has been difficult and challenging, the very fact that it has been difficult and challenging and that I have worked through it has been incredibly rewarding and outweighs any negative feeling faced when I experienced those tough times. The learning curve has been steep, but again, its steepness has meant that I end 2011 knowing much more than I did at the end of 2010! I move into my second year as a fully qualified lawyer feeling like I have got through the toughest part and feel ready take on whatever comes my way!
This year has also been the year when Disability Horizons was born. It has only been 8 months since we launched a pokey little DIY website with just enough articles to publish once a month. But in that time, the magazine has come on leaps and bounds and the journey has been nothing short of incredible. It has also been thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling.
Getting to know so many interesting new people through our reader community has been so much fun, but also an insightful learning experience. This might sound a little surprising, but before starting this magazine with Martyn, I generally didn’t know much about disability specific issues. Apart from Martyn and a couple of other individuals, I didn’t even know any other disabled people.
This was not out of any particular motive or intention at all, but because I had never really felt defined by disability, and just got on with my daily life the best way I could. I never made it a point to get to know more disabled people, and got to know those that I did through everyday life; and who became friends of mine for no reason other than for being great individuals.
My disability for most of my life has been an obstacle to be overcome rather than an impenetrable barrier. I have always tried to do whatever I aspired to do, whether that be going out with friends and having a good time, going to university and becoming a lawyer or travelling around the world. That philosophy of trying to do what you aspire to do is something that I share with Martyn and is hard wired into the DNA of Disability Horizons.
Travel and Adventure
Coming back to the year that has been, in terms of travel and adventure, my personal passion, 2011 has been good year. The travel bug that I caught in 2010 has not disappeared at all, and this year I have been to Tenerife, Switzerland and New York on holiday; and to Edinburgh and Malaga for work reasons. Each trip was a fantastic challenge in its own right, but also an enjoyable experience! As per my personal need for an adrenaline rush, I went on another scuba dive in Tenerife; in my wheelchair, I wheeled up to the top of one of Edinburgh’s biggest hills, I went on a helicopter ride through the Swiss alps and at the end of summer, I took an adapted flying lesson/experience in Salisbury, UK.
Highs and lows
While it all probably sounds that everything this year has been great, I can assure you it hasn’t. For parts of this year, I have felt utterly exhausted. I’ve worked pretty much every weekend this year on either something related to my job as a lawyer or my role as co-editor of Disability Horizons. I have also had my fair share of setbacks, disappointments, tough times and failures. It just isn’t my nature to spend too much time dwelling on these though. Life is too short to spend time dwelling on such things. I believe a person’s focus determines their reality, and the reality of my life is positive only because I have a natural focus on what has been positive.
The wider world
This year has also been probably one of the most events packed on a global level. Established tyrants and dictators have met their downfall through people power. Various economies and nations have continuously teetered on the break of collapse as a result of political dithering and indecision of the worst kind. The roots of social and civil unrest seem to have also taken hold with a mix aims, agendas and outcomes. Organisations such as “Occupy” or the “Indignados” have aimed to bring attention to the economic injustices that are arising, whereas England’s youth rioters aimed to bring chaos and anarchy to the streets in the pursuit of stealing a new pair of shoes.
Such events in 2011 will probably set the scene for what happens in 2012. While in the UK, the Golden Jubilee and the Olympics will bring some much needed collective cheer, I fear that 2012 will be a difficult year for many. The economic situation looks ever grimmer, and some kind of break-up of the Euro whether in a full or partial form is looking unfortunately more inevitable. The global nature and scale of events, means that a country like the UK, will be very much driven by external events. While internet movements such as the Broken of Britain and established DPO’s have done a great job to protect the interests of disabled people from the spending cuts, the continuing economic recession will inevitably progress the shrinking of the welfare state.
The battles will continue, but at Disability Horizons, the philosophy of self-empowerment will become more topical in 2012. Disability Horizons will do everything it can in 2012 to make sure that information and opportunities are made available to things such as education, work, leisure, travel, independent living and access to infrastructure. So even as the spending cuts bite further, Martyn and I will do our utmost to make sure readers will have the information and resources to overcome the new obstacles that are imposed.
Like 2011, 2012 will probably be another eventful year on both a personal level and a wider level. I go into 2012 feeling personally upbeat and ready for whatever challenges come my way.
I hope you had a merry Christmas and I wish you all the best for 2012!