Exceeding Expectations- By Holly Tuke

Exceeding expectations and achieving your goals in the ‘new normal’

January is the month where many of us think about setting ourselves some goals, think about what we’d like to achieve, and reflect on our goals and achievements over the last year or so.  To be completely honest, I haven’t set myself any strict goals this year; I’m taking it one step at a time, focusing on myself and those around me.

There are a few small goals I’d like to achieve and things I’d like to work towards, but we’ll see what the year has in store.  Thinking about goals often intertwines with the notion surrounding success and expectations of ourselves, and other people’s expectations of us.

When thinking about what topic to write for my first post of 2021 for the Parent Portal, the first thing that sprung to mind was something along the lines of disability and success and exceeding expectations.  With many parents home schooling at the moment, I thought this was a rather relatable topic.

I’ve seen people talk about the goals and expectations they have (or had) in mind for their children whilst they’re learning at home, and how to achieve these. But on the other hand, I’ve seen others abandon these goals and expectations completely and go with the flow. Whichever way you are doing things, that’s fine.

Whilst it’s important to not get ‘wrapped up’ in the ideologies of success, it’s vital to remember that disabled people can achieve the things they want to.  So in the midst of home schooling, I want to touch on exceeding expectations and reassure you that your child can get to where they want to be in life.  The last 10 months or so might not have gone to plan, but we will get through it together.

Exceeding expectations

Public attitudes surrounding disability can often be negative, these stigmas are so far from reality but can put niggling doubt in our minds. However, we shouldn’t let these wrongly perceived ideas define our capabilities and stop us from succeeding.

I’ve been blind all my life due to a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity, I’ve met many people that didn’t think I could succeed because I’m blind. I’ve been through some challenging chapters in my life, there’s been times where I’ve wanted to give up, but I don’t deserve to be condemned to a life where people believe I’m incapable and can’t succeed just because I have a disability, and neither does anyone else.

Things haven’t always been easy, in school my Teaching Assistants weren’t often given work in time for them to put it into an accessible format so that I could do the work like everyone else, we always adapted in the best ways we could, but we shouldn’t have had to do that.  People didn’t think that I would get the grades, but guess what? I worked extremely hard and proved people wrong. I got a good set of GCSE’s, did better than I thought in my A-levels and I got the grades to go to my first choice University, I then graduated University and now in employment. Some might say that I exceeded expectations, but others might not. I’ve proved that by working hard, having the right mindset and being determined, you can achieve what you want to, whether you have a disability or not.

I want people to know this that they can do exactly the same.

Having a disability is not an obstacle for success

We need to teach the younger generation that having a disability does not mean that they can’t get good grades, can’t go onto college/University, or get their dream job… because they can. Higher education isn’t for everyone, we all go down different paths in life, but our path shouldn’t be dictated to us because of our disability.

Stereotypes, stigmas and people’s attitudes may try to throw a person off their path, but this doesn’t mean to say that disabled people can’t achieve. It’s all about embracing how we achieve our goals, we may need adaptions, but this isn’t something to be ashamed of.

People have told me that I may not get to where I want to be in life because of my vision impairment, although these comments can be demoralising, they motivated me to work hard and prove people wrong.  I realised that I had a choice – to let my disability define me and dictate my life, or to strive to get to where I want to be, block out the wrongly preconceived ideas and prove those people wrong, I think we all know that I chose the latter.  I surround myself with people that encourage me, motivate me and push me to work hard, those people see my capabilities, not my limitations.

Success is different for everyone; some people want to be in the spotlight whilst others are quietly achieving amazing things in the background, but it doesn’t make them any less successful.

Parents: if you feel like the odds are against you or your child, I want you to know that it is possible to defy them, when you or your children reach those goals, it’ll be an incredible feeling!  Remember that everyone has different goals and things they’d like to achieve, but that doesn’t have to be seen as a bad thing.

It may seem like it’s harder to achieve our goals and exceed expectations during these challenging times, but it is important to think about what we have all gone through, that’s something to be proud of, isn’t it?

It may seem like everyone else is working towards something big whilst you’re just working on staying organised and getting through the day, remember that those goals are still important and valid.

Motivate your child to achieve the things they want to, encourage them to be themselves no matter what, and be proud of every single achievement.

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