What’s the point of being ‘normal’? Where’s the fun in that? I want to be me. I want to be John Sennett.
We all have our own stories. I think we forget this. We try to fit in with the crowd, to be socially accepted, but later find ourselves unable to stand out.
I want to stand out. I don’t like being part of a norm and I’m definitely not a stereotype. My story is MY story. It’s unique to me. No-one else lives my life. Yes, we can have similar experiences, but everything in my journey makes my story what it is. It’s the same with your story.
Deciding on my 2018 goals, I knew I wanted to showcase my story. 2018 is personal for a reason. It’s a highlight of the experiences I’ve been through, and the fundraising challenges are an example of how I plan to use them to help others.
My walk in January was inspired by the life-changing moment I had when I arrived through the Pavilion on the Park doors in December 2012. Whenever I’ve started a new project, I’ve always started it with them. They started my journey with me. I’m going to start my fundraising journey with them too.
February sees me travel to the Lake District to take on 10 peaks in 4 days. February will be my birthday. I’ll be 26. I wouldn’t be here today if the bullies won. I’m making a stand against every person who has ever made someone feel small, and on top of each peak, I’ll be there celebrating the individual that I am. It’s time to Ditch the Label!!
March. Well, it’s a biggie. 21 marathons in 21 days in a wheelchair, marks a very tough time for my family. My sister’s Crohn’s Disease diganosis and stroke a few years later, was a significant motivation behind not just March, but my entire year. Not every disability is visible, so with the amount of stares my sister receives, the lack of opportunities given to her as she’s made to feel different, I’m using her story to tell more people they’re not alone. It’ll also be my sister’s birthday on the 12th, and there’s might be a potential world record attempt to celebrate her 39th birthday.
April, mentally will be an emotional time. The gym helped me through some rough times. It gave me space to just be me, and to concentrate on my health. Add in the thoughts of suicide and the impact April will have will be significant. 100,000kg workout will break my mind. It’ll emotionally take me back to the moment I no longer wanted to be here. I felt alone. I didn’t want to speak up. I am now! YoungMinds are my chosen charity. I’ll do what I can for them. I don’t want anyone else to feel what I feel. I want there to be a safe space for young people to feel they can open up.
Opening up about my mum’s cancer story was tough. For me, it’s been one of the hardest experiences to share. I was young when she was fighting. I done nothing. Yes, I was young, but I hate myself for it. I never went to hospital, I didn’t really speak about it. I didn’t want to lose my mum, but didn’t know how to say it. When I was 18, I did just this. I wrote her a letter on her birthday. I told her how I felt. We both broke down. 1000 mile cycle is to take on more bumps. Bumps across several national parks. A world record attempt? What a way this would be to tell Cancer to shove it where the sun don’t shine? How great would it be that a recent cancer scare, could inspire a movement? A movement of discussions? A movement between communities? Your Simpal does this. They collaborate with charities to support those living with cancer to access the support the require.
It’s the same for my swimming challenge. I needed access to a pool to conquer my fear. How many adults don’t know how to swim? How many adults have a fear of water? When people reached out to me on Twitter, after sharing my first swimming pictures, it was time I done something I always thought was impossible. 100 lengths of a pool? Easy? Hard? 1996 was the year I nearly drowned. Swimming this distance means I can put my fear to one side, and inspire more people to take their first few steps in the water. Add in a story about how Flash saved my life, my best friend’s visual impairment story, and you have a fundraiser for Guide Dogs.
Just like, how I’m fundraising for Be Real Campaign. As I started to accept what happened in my past, I started my self-love journey. Loving yourself when times are tough is probably the hardest part keeping your identity. The bullies took the piss out of build. I was tall and slim. I was still John. They didn’t see that. Bullying made me feel unloved. I felt excluded. On my own. NO MORE!!! NO MORE!!! We need to embrace individuality. We need to embrace who we are and what we have as individuals. I don’t have a six pack. But, that doesn’t stop me from loving myself. Stereotypes are insignificant thoughts groups have. We’re living what we believe is right to fit in.
NO! NO! NO!! Don’t change for someone else. Be true to you!
2018 is as honest as it gets. I’m not standing down. I’m not taking no as an answer. I want to share my story. I want people to feel what I felt. I want people to know what happens behind closed doors. I want people to know what goes through someone’s head, when they’re struggling.
If I had the support at school, I may not have been suicidal. Place2Be‘s work sung to me when deciding on the 11 charities. I knew I wanted to support their already incredible work. WE NEED TO DO MORE IN SCHOOLS!! Life can get the best of most of us. Life can take unexpected turns. Losing my nan, hit me for six. I still struggle knowing she’s not here. I miss her. Imagine how that feels for a young person? Grief? Embarrassed to admit they’re not ok? I hid from the world. I cried myself to sleep. What happened to having a childhood? I don’t think I had one. I had to grow up fast. That’s not how life should be. We should be able to make friends at school without feeling judged. We should be able to enjoy our education. I couldn’t. My mental health story will be my motivation in September, as I take on a 190 hour challenge?!
How? Where? When? Why? It’s the questions I’m asking myself about my October fundraiser for StreetGames. Sport was only 1 of 2 things that helped me to cope as a child. Growing up, my love of sport grew. I felt part of something. I felt included. For someone going through so much, it was the one moment I could have fun. The only time I felt I had friends. So how do I highlight the importance of sport when you’re mentally struggling? A marathon? No? How about a marathon of sports? 26 sports in 26 hours? The age I’ll be when I take on 10 of these challenges.
Challenge is definitely a word I’d use throughout my life. Struggling and not speaking up about it; I was isolated. I was alone. My school friends didn’t know what I was going through until we were 20. Imagine how I felt? Imagine how they felt? Could more have been done? What I meant to go through this? There’s loads of questions surrounding loneliness and I’m going to explore it for the NSPCC. I’m going to understand more about my life to get to grips with what happened?! I want to know! I want to use it to help others. What will I do to raise awareness? How about isolating myself? How about a kayak challenge leaving me in the middle of an ocean, unable to call for help?
What if I needed help, but didn’t know how to ask for it? What would happen if I went missing? On my own accord? Unplanned? A fundraiser for Missing People will finish off my year. It’ll cover my childhood. It’ll talk about the moment I left home. I wanted to see my sister. She was 250 miles away. I left home. No-one knew where I was. People were scared. Police were called. Imagine this happening over Christmas? For some families, it does happen. My 12 day challenge will hopefully make Christmas a memorable one. I hope my sharing my story, people are found. Those missing feel they can call someone.
I felt alone most of my life, but NO MORE!! I am ready for 2018! I’m ready to say life can be shit, but it can also get better! There’s nothing weak about speaking up. There’s no reason people should feel alone. Reach out to them. Ask how they are?
Whether it’s a 650 mile walk, 190 hour challenge, or something else, I’m fed up. I’m bored of stereotypes. I’m tired of seeing people being picked on for being themselves. 2018 is my story. MY story will help. It’ll support. Hopefully, it’ll inspire.
That’s the reason I’m taking on 11 challenges for 11 different charities to raise £100,000!