"I know we're all supposed to be confident in our self-worth without looking for the approval of others, but to have someone else like you and think you're special is so super powerful it makes me shake."
On Friday I was awarded a BUPA Health Influencer blogging award. The category I won was 'Positive Life Change'. I am so excited about my win - especially to have won in the company of good friends (Sandra and Nathalie respectively won the Social Good and Family Time categories). The calibre of the finalists was high - and many of them are also friends of mine. These awards are an indicator that blogging is creating awareness around health issues and also building and strengthening communities. These awards show that people are taking notice of bloggers.
I'm so proud to be a winner. I've been blogging for almost four years and it is wonderful to be recognised as a health influencer - not only in the blogosphere but to my readers too. This hard work is paying off. (I got this awesome trophy and also an iPad!)
I thought a little about how I've made a positive life change. I can't remember being anything but positive. A friend told me she believes I have been blessed with an outgoing personality and boundless optimism, but I also think I have actively made choices to make the best out of a difficult situation - be it through study, employment, looking for opportunities, making myself known to those who can make a difference to the world and to me, and being very open about living with Ichthyosis. It is difficult to admit, but maybe my positivity and zest for life is a reason I have a slight tough love attitude. I take very few excuses, and I'm not a fan of wallowing. I think, if I can do it, others can too. Over the weekend I had to call roadside assistance to attend to a flat tyre. In five minutes, I had convinced the mechanic, very concerned and apologetic that I had a red face, that he's not to take pity on me. I told him it's through having Ichthyosis that I've been able to tell my story and make connections, and win the award on Friday. He saw that having a visible difference has not been something that has stopped me from living a very full life.
The more I blog, the more the blogosphere changes. And the more the blogosphere changes, the more I run my own race. I just want to be myself here, tell my own story, on my own terms. I may do the occassional sponsored post, but it has to align with my personal values, the way I live my life and overall blog content. I want my blog to be about developing a portfolio of writing for myself, and make a difference to my readers. And it is. I couldn't imagine its impact when I started writing here almost four years ago.
Just through telling my story, I've made a difference to so many people. This blog has helped many people with visible differences tell their story, accept and become more confident with their appearance, seek the help they need, and form a community. It's taught people about Ichthyosis - a very rare condition. Yesterday I got a message from a reader who is volunteering in Thailand. She said she saw a young girl who looked to have Ichthyosis. My reader showed this girl a picture of me on my blog using her iPad, saying "same, beautiful". Though the girl couldn't understand English, she looked knowingly and smiled - she's not alone with this condition. What a relief that must have been. My reader said that before reading here, she knew nothing about the condition.
The beautiful and courageous Carrie Bickmore (host of The Project) presented me with my award. Prior to the presentation, she gave a heartfelt talk that had the audience laughing and crying. Out of respect I'm not going to cover the points in her talk here, but I will say that I admire the way she's coped with adversity. She ended her talk with "Find the sunshine in every day, and be the best you can be". She's such a role model for me - she shows that success comes to those who work hard, and there's often so much going on behind the scenes - readers or an audience aren't always aware of that. Such a beautiful woman.
To be awarded the BUPA Health Influencer blogging award at the end of last week meant so much. It was certainly a big week - Bob Evans sums it up!
Each winner had to give a speech and I was a bit stuck for words - after Carrie's moving talk and also at the surprise of my win. I did manage to say that it is so good to be able to tell my story here on my own terms, because there's far more empathy in doing so.
Thank you BUPA, Matt and Mandy from Porter Novelli, the judges, you the reader, my medical team, and my friends and family for believing in me. That you think I'm special makes me beam.
You can read about the BUPA blog awards, including all of the finalists, here.
Congratulations to the category winners:
$120 Food Challenge (Social Good)
The Bushwalking Blog (Healthy Lifestyle)
Easy Peasy Kids (Family Time)
Super Charged Food (Healthy Eating) - Lee also took out the overall prize.
The Wellness Warrior (Personal Development/SelfCare)