We often face horrible situations that make us believe all circumstances are against us and we have virtually no chance to succeed. And yet, history is filled with examples where people who rose to great heights despite facing tremendous odds. One of the greatest examples of these individuals is Professor. Stephen Hawking.
Born in Oxford, England in 1942, Stephen Hawking was always scientifically inclined. He attended the prestigious University of Oxford and later while he was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, he met his first love, Jane Wilde, who would later become his wife. He looked forward to having a normal life but fate had other plans.
At the age of 21 he was diagnosed with Motor neurone disease, a rare condition which progressive cripples the individual and usually causes death within a few years. Hawking was told he only had two years to live. While he proved the doctors wrong and survived, he was still eventually confined to a wheel chair and much of his body became paralyzed.
A bout of pneumonia in 1985 almost killed him. The doctors suggested to his wife to switch off life support as they thought he would almost certainly die. But she refused. Miraculously, Hawking survived again, but a tracheotomy procedure conducted during this period robbed him of his ability to speak. He was only able to communicate through a speech synthesizer in which he had to key in sentences, letter by letter by twitching his facial muscles. Due to the progressive nature of his disease, slowly it become extremely hard for him to do that too.
And yet despite all these problems that would make average people think their lives were doomed, Hawking had the courage to keep pursuing what he wanted. His work on theoretical physics established him as one of most respected physicists in the world. Despite the immense struggle he faced in everyday life, Hawking still managed to maintain a sense of humor and enjoyed life as much as he possibly could.
Through his popular books such as the Brief History of Time, which was written after he lost his ability to speak, he even managed to capture the attention of everyday people and sparked their interest in science. The book became an international best seller and established him as a pop culture phenomenon. Stephen Hawking, a man confined to a wheel chair , a man who wasn’t even expected to live very long, became a legend alongside the likes of Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.
Sometimes in life, not everything goes the way you wanted. You may go through setbacks or personal tragedies that may radically alter your life and make your goals appear like a distant dream. Life may beat you into a pulp and others may think it’s all over for you. But if you have the mentality of a winner, nothing will hold you down. No matter how tough it gets, you shall rise, fight back and inspire everyone around you to face their own lives with renewed vigour.
Moral: There is only one thing that can stop you from achieving your dream. It is not your ethnicity, it is not your gender, it isn’t your age, it isn’t a disability and it certainly isn’t your current economic condition. The only thing that can stop you is lack of your own will to succeed.
Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.