OPINION: Let's use Rose's spirit and resolve to challenge ourselves in 2022

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 champions Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 champions Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis - Credit: BBC/Guy Levy

The idea for this column came to me, as so many ideas do, in a wakeful period in the middle of the night.

And there’s a story right there, before I go any further, because I honestly don’t know anyone whose sleep patterns have not been disrupted by Covid-19.

Friends, family, colleagues and clients are always telling me that reliable slumber has deserted them, and how they wake early in the morning, or can’t get to sleep at night, or drop off only to find themselves wide awake again in the wee small hours.

And then there are the dreams, aren’t there?

Many individuals claim that they have far more nightmares than they used to, or complex, dystopic, stressful narratives to their dream world. And this is just a small part of what we’ve all been negotiating for around 21 months.

So, as we approach a new year, with earnest hopes that this one might turn out to be less problematic, what are our plans for the future?

Normally at this point in December we – often half-heartedly – turn our attention to New Year resolutions, but my idea is that we should think much bigger than usual and aim to do something utterly remarkable in 2022.

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Why? Because so many individuals have a sense that their lives have been on hold for far too long, and that they are endlessly treading water rather than making any headway.

And you may feel stuck in this way, and totally unremarkable at present, and unsure how you could ever change that.

But can I remind you that we’re all remarkable in our way. Nature, after all, has bothered to give us our own DNA and a highly individual set of fingerprints. So, we’ve already been designed to be different and special, and I think we should celebrate that in 2022 and embark on remarkable projects.

May I just say that if you work in the NHS, or on a supermarket checkout, or drive a delivery van you are already remarkable.

And have been so throughout the pandemic. Indeed, you may feel you have been remarkable enough to last a lifetime!

But even you might want to have a think about what you could do that would be different and exciting – perhaps something in your leisure life – which will help you feel happier and even more fulfilled by this time next year.

So, what could we all do?

There are plenty of good examples around. Look at what Captain Tom Moore accomplished before he died. He was certainly remarkable.

Then let me tell you about a friend of mine who nursed her sick mother for years and very much put herself second for ages. Not surprisingly, she felt lost when mum died but since then, she has transformed her life.

She has lost almost five stone in the last year, taken up Nordic walking and become really active, and is now feeling younger and fitter than she can ever remember. Perhaps you could use her story to inspire you and do something similar for yourself?

A former client of mine, who left school with no qualifications and did a string of unskilled jobs – each grimmer than the one before – decided one day to take himself in hand and improve his life. He found the Open University website and enrolled on a free course.

Much to his amazement, he became hooked on learning, and went on to take a degree. In a few months, he will qualify as a teacher.

Would you like to learn something new? Do you want an entirely different career? Or perhaps you would like to take time off and travel.

Have you, maybe, had enough of being grounded in the UK and want to visit somewhere you might never have considered before the virus struck? I confess that I do. During the first lockdown, I read a book about Siberia and now I’m fascinated by it and determined to travel across it. Will it happen in 2022? I hope so. Certainly, the planning has begun.

So that is my ‘remarkable’ project, but I have to admit it’s nothing compared with what Rose Ayling-Ellis has achieved.

When she, as the first deaf contestant ever on Strictly, turned up at the beginning of the series I doubt if any of us guessed what an impact she was going to have. But now, we’re all looking at deafness in a new way. And online searches for sign language courses in the UK have gone up by 300%.

This determined, spirited, delightful and talented young woman seized her opportunity and not only won the competition, but single-handedly touched the lives of millions and millions of us, filled us with joy and altered out perceptions. Now that is truly remarkable.

We may not have it in us to tackle anything as great as Rose has, but as the pandemic rumbles on and continues to mess with our lives, let’s all fight back by setting ourselves some interesting challenges, and endeavouring to be truly remarkable in our own way.

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