GRACE'S MUSINGS: Refusing to paddle

GRACE'S MUSINGS: Refusing to paddle

“I don’t believe in imposed limitations. I don’t believe in any limitations, and that’s the reason to do it, not the other way round.”

If you haven’t yet seen the film Nyad, I recommend putting it at the top of your Christmas viewing list right now, because here is a film that is so steeped in inspiration, it will have you setting year end resolutions with such purpose and conviction you won’t recognise yourself.

Based on a true story, the film centres around athlete Diana Nyad (Annette Benning) who, at the age of 64, achieved her life’s dream by becoming the first person in history to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. An astounding feat in itself, but this victory was her fifth attempt. Three decades after giving up marathon swimming to become a sports journalist, she got back in the water and succeeded. Essentially a motivational story of triumph over adversity, but in many ways it is so much more than this.

It represents the sheer willpower, strength and determination of all women. It highlights phenomenal accomplishment at an age when, if we’re honest, society would actually have us becoming invisible and with less voice. We still have to fight to be noticed above a certain age, and to put ourselves out there with an unwavering belief that we can achieve more goals takes courage – particularly when we know that it is also often the presence of fear that holds us back.

The idea that we carry imposed limitations is so very true – we do. It’s human nature to tend towards believing we can’t, before believing we can. The inner voice of self-doubt is so entwined with fear, it becomes our first limitation right there, well before any additional negative mental chatter steps in to hold us back further. So to choose not to believe in limitations can only be empowering, enabling the freedom to explore limitless possibilities. Once we have made the decision to confront fear, it becomes less controlling.

This is also a film about the strength of passion behind female success, and the fight to achieve standing in what is still, essentially, a man’s world. If you go back over the centuries there are a significant number of outstandingly successful and powerful women who challenged the political landscape as leaders, or whose achievements shaped the course of history with their depth and determination. It continues with each generation and setting a bar so high, it acts as a stimulus for those who are determined to succeed, regardless of age.

Then there is female solidarity. In the film, her coach Bonnie Stoll (Jodie Foster) is representative of a forty-year friendship of love and support, and someone who was by Nyad’s side for each attempt. Women supporting women is a huge part of our success. My female friendships most definitely see me through, and it doesn’t seem to matter what age we are, we continue to meet women who understand and support us – solid female friendships that help to shape the course of our lives. It’s interesting that – when it comes to the idea of limitations – we always seem to believe in the abilities of our friends before our own.

“Never ever give up. You’re never too old to chase your dreams.” Perhaps this is the greatest sentiment I will take away from the film; one that resonates loudly here at Studio10, our ethos and everything we write about. What is certain for me, and as Diana Nyad makes abundantly clear with the success of her final attempt, I won’t accept defeat. As women in an unbalanced world that doesn’t always play fair, not one of us ever should.

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