Editor’s Note: Twenty-one-year-old Matt Blaylock from Canton, Georgia was a strong, healthy, talented, three sport athlete, with a college scholarship in his pocket until his accident. Part 5 of a 5 part series.
I want to get into college, and I haven’t decided yet what I want to study. I still haven’t given up on the idea of becoming an attorney, and I’m still interested in political science. I’m also interested in physiology. Although I’m not really sure what the future holds for me, I still want to learn as much as I can. I can see that I have a good future ahead of me as long as I stay on track. I know that eventually I want to get out of this chair.
Now, I don’t know when this may happen – perhaps months or years from now. But each year there’s more and more research being done and new technology being developed to help spinal cord injuryvictims. I believe that one day researchers will find the answer that will help me and thousands of other individuals with spinal cord injuries be able to get out of their chairs. One day, I want to be able to feed myself and not have to depend on my mom or my nurse to feed me.
I feel fortunate that many of my friends from high school still stay in touch with me. One of the greatest events each year is when my buddies and I all play fantasy football together. Even though I can’t run, block or tackle, I can pick the players and still be a part of the game. Last season, I won the league and had a winning season. I’ve really had an attitude change since my accident.
As I mentioned, immediately after the accident, I wanted to die. I didn’t think life in the wheelchair was going to be worth living.
Now I have a very positive attitude. I’m much more focused, and I feel like I’ve matured and grown up. Many people have told me, “You’re light years ahead in your life, especially about the important things in your life, than you were in high school.”
My focus is not so much on me anymore. I’m really trying to help my younger brother to meet his full potential. As he’s in high school and moves on to college, I’m trying to help him stay grounded and not make the mistakes I’ve made.
Through this healing process, I’ve come to understand why I got injured, and I understand why I haven’t accomplished many of the things I wanted to accomplish before I was injured. I can go back mentally now and see how I could’ve made better decisions in high school and how I could’ve achieved more than I did. I try and tell younger students and athletes that to accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves, they not only have to work and study, but they also have to learn to sacrifice by not doing what many of their friends are doing.
I know that when I was in high school, partying and having fun became one of my major concerns, and I let it get in the way of the work and discipline that I needed to have. I didn’t realize back then that what I did in high school would directly affect my college career. I didn’t see high school as a building block for college. I didn’t have my priorities straight about when I should be working, and when I should walk away from the parties. I learned in high school that if I wanted to be ready for opportunity when it came along, I had to do the work.
Today I know I need to work my body out with the Quadriciser and eat the right food, so that when a cure is found for my injury, my body will be ready for it. I’ve learned in physical therapy that just like in football and in life, if you want to succeed, you’ve got to patiently put in the time and the work to build yourself into success. Success doesn’t fall out of the sky. Success depends on working as hard as you can every day.
I’ve also stopped believing the people who tell me that I can never do this or that. I know that if I put in the time and do the work and become the best I can be, the opportunities will come along. If I hadn’t have been open minded to opportunities and been willing to work to be the best I could each day after my accident, I wouldn’t have all these opportunities now to speak and to help others. I’ve learned that mentally, I’m stronger and can do more than I’ve ever thought I’d be able to accomplish immediately after the accident. I’m looking forward to what comes next in my life.
To learn more about Matt Blaylock, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 770-380-1432.
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com