Tell us about yourself - who are you and what do you love doing?
Hey! I’m Tash, I’m 25, I live in the Lakes and I function off a silly amount of tea (Yorkshire tea obviously!). I have always loved sport and the outdoors, I come from a large family and weekends and school holidays would include big camping trips around the Lakes with lots of kayaking, swimming (Not very well!), biking and hiking.
When I was younger I competed in gymnastics to a high level with the aim of becoming an Olympian however, this all came to a halt with the realisation that if I kept pushing myself I was going to cause long term damage to myself. See, as a toddler, I started walking late, and I was always super clumsy but as I got older I seemed to have ‘growing pains’ constantly and would forever be ‘twisting my ankles’ and falling over meaning I bounced into the Emergency Department regularly and spent a large portion of my childhood and adolescent years on crutches!
After years of fighting for a diagnosis I gave up, and was compelled to study Sports Therapy at university so no-one else ever had to give up sport because of injury (A massive statement, I know!), this lead to my amazing cohort and I searching for a diagnosis through our study, then at 19 years old I was diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndrome (HSD) and ‘associated symptoms’. From this, I continued in education gaining my masters in Physiotherapy and I now work full-time in the NHS and have a keen interest in working with those living with invisible illnesses and chronic pain.
I am unbelievably passionate about my job, in promoting peoples’ independence and work-life balance and I’m longing for the days when my partner, Matt, and I can live in our van full-time, spending our days climbing in beautiful places around the world!
Give us three words that you identify with most?
I’m struggling to answer this question as we live in an age where everyday pressure to not only be successful, but to be a unique individual, causes great psychological damage to women and I feel we should not search for an identity, or words that represent ourselves in such a way, because to dissect your personality to assess an identity would remove your identity in the first place. I guess you could say I’m opinionated though...
What brings you the most joy outdoors?
The views! I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world, in all seasons, in every valley, every lakeside, wooded area or mountain top the views amaze me every time. It’s this that makes you realise how small you are, it brings perspective to you as an individual and it’s the best thing for your mental health, which recently is more important than ever.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
My biggest challenge is that of acceptance, in accepting that I wasn’t going to make it as an Olympian by accepting and continuing to accept my physical limitations but not to let them define me. In accepting myself and my body and becoming comfortable in my own skin and not defining myself by social ideals. In accepting that it’s okay to be okay at something and not constantly strive for perfection as the pursuit of this is unsustainable and often results in unhappiness. I will always set goals; personally, professionally and physically as it is the only way to grow and remain accountable but in doing so I have had to accept that due to my HSD I need to prioritise my physical wellbeing over everything else and ultimately I think that everyone’s challenge is that of balancing self-care without selfishness.
If you could share a core value or abiding principle with others, what would it be?
Not to be drawn into social comparison, the rise in social media and ‘influencers’ presenting a lifestyle online is so detrimental to modern day society and it is devastating to see the negative effects this is having on the mental health of the general public, not isolated to the younger generation. You should never measure your happiness by material belongings, by your occupation, level of education or social status. Just be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do and stop caring about what people may think about you!
Tell us one small change we can make as individuals to help our community?
Stop being judgemental, it’s such a waste of time, energy and happiness. I wish we could live in a world where everyone was peaceful, respectful and happy. This will never truly be achieved but if everyone made a conscious effort to be happier towards themselves and happier towards others a little bit more each day the world would be a much more beautiful place and all of the barriers and adversities people face will hopefully, in time, become a thing of the past. This is quite a hypocritical statement as I often find myself making instinctive judgements only to become remorseful seconds later. This remains an endless uphill battle, one that maybe we should never overcome, but instead understand why we have these thoughts and use this to grow as individuals and as a community.