The “I Told You” lists

So, here we are. Sunday I was a student, today I am a business owner.

I’m sitting here, with a mixture of expletives and tears, a bit in awe and a bit overwhelmed.

Some of you were there in person back in 2013, when I stood in front of 400+ business leaders and civic leaders and gave my little speech about wanting to be self employed, for those of you who weren’t (and a chance to plug Leeds Poverty Truth again)

Here it is:

It’s a long video, and I urge you to watch it through at some point, but for now, fast forward to me, 45mins in.

Since that video, I’ve been at University and am starting my third year, which is when you can become an intern for the year. Instead of working for someone else though, I applied for the University Enterprise year. A whole year with one goal, finally setting up that business.

A couple weeks ago I sat with my university support worker, and was telling her of my worries about running my business, it came down to this… People say I can’t do it.

People since that speach, people recently, have told me I can’t do it… Mentally you wouldn’t manage it… You’re not capable of the organisation you would need… You wouldn’t cope with the loneliness of self-employment… 

My support worker told me that she knew people with mental illnesses who have a successful business and it got me thinking, Who are they?

Then whilst browsing through Pinterest a few days ago I saw this story about Thomas Edison.

This got me thinking. I need a list of people who have succeeded when people have told them they wouldn’t.

I don’t know how my year is going to end and I’m concerned that there is no disability support from university this year. I have to be more aware of my health especially when I have good ‘well-meaning’ friends who I’ve allowed to rent negative space in my mind. 

I sat through a business talk this morning and could feel things start to crumble, voices returning and where I usually knit to keep myself focused, I had nothing to knit. I also hadn’t warned people that I might knit in a meeting because it helps keep my hearing voices at bay. I could feel myself fidgeting, itching to get up and walk out. Wanting to get fresh air, wanting to shout and run. But I stayed put.

In the afternoon we were visiting a factory, about a fifteen minute walk away, something I usually wouldn’t think I could manage. I thought about backing out of it, but my spirit came through. That annoying spirit that never let me give up when I lost everything, that pulled me through alcoholism, that got me off the streets.

I started near the front of the group and reached the factory behind everyone else, gasping for breath and in pain, only to find I had stairs to climb. I don’t do stairs, that’s how I broke my ankle by falling down stairs. My spine has a twist in it that makes walking straight a bit difficult, I want to walk straight forward, but my spine twists my body slightly making my pathway off-centre, stairs can be frightening because if I suddenly veer to the right I can fall. 

I walked up the stairs and a new friend (see I’ve made friends already) pointed me to a chair and told me to sit down and rest. I refused, “that’d be like giving up”.

I came home tonight and got out two cards, one pink and one blue. I wrote the words “I told you…” On each one and have pinned them on my wall, next to my desk.

On the blue card I’m going to write people I come across who did what they’ve been told they couldn’t do. People like Thomas Edison. Every time I see that list of names I’m thinking, “I told you, if they can do it, so can I”

On the pink card I’ve put the names of those people who say I can’t do this. At the moment this list is longer, and I hope people who read my blogs can help change that by telling me about people they know who have overcome the odds.

The pink card also says I told you… To them I say, I told you I could do it. Today I walked further than I’ve walked in years, I came home and organised some knitting so I can get through any difficult meetings tomorrow.

One day I might just get a chance to try another little dream of mine, to be a motivational speaker. If that ever happened then this would be my message: To those who say it can’t be done I say this,

“Just watch me”.

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

One thought on “The “I Told You” lists

  1. What do I think? I think that you have already come such a distance as most could never conceive. I do not know your whole story, but can piece together some of it. Not without setbacks you have beaten addiction, and embrace in your heart a true Christianity, not dogmatic cant. You have a giving soul, yet live in economic poverty. But not a poverty of your soul.

    I think you will succeed. It may be hard (it probably will be) but the hard things are the things worth doing. My prayers, and the prayers of many others, are with you!



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