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Transitions: Life, Lemonade and Triathlon

By Scott Simpson

February 1, 2010

In triathlon racing there is a transition zone; an area where athletes transform / change from swimmers to cyclists and then from cyclists to runners. The goal of the athlete is to get through the transitions, T1 and T2, as quickly as possible. It is free time you can gain over your competitors.

In life we go through many transitions, some of our own making and we eagerly seek, like choosing to pursue higher education or to change careers. While other transitions are forced upon us: mourning the loss of family or friend, or being laid off from your job, being diagnosed with a serious illness. Regardless of where the locus of control lies that initiates the transition, either internal or external, adaptation to the new situation is fundamental for success. It seems it's always about Darwin's theory.

I write of this because today is the last day of my college program and marks the first day of my transition from full time student working only part time to a full time job seeker. This transition period is a time for me to integrate my previous experience and knowledge with my newly acquired skills and insight. Most crucially in my opinion, is that my personal values are also addressed in my work. My challenge, shared by many no doubt, is constructing a career -- and life -- that incorporates all these aspects to satisfaction. Essentially, I believe we seek to lead an authentic life: one of our own creation.

For me this includes not having to hide my HIV+ status. Why? Quite simply, if I am hiding my status I am giving it more power over my life. It is acquiescing to the pressure of stigma, of discrimination, and of AIDSphobia. It is giving in to fear. Been there, done that, ain't goin' back and nobody can make me. Life is far too short. By being public about being HIV+ I will keep the locus of control -- the power -- internal.

Instead, during this transition period, I am going to set about constructing reality from a dream. A future where I turn the tables on my personal battle with HIV. I will make lemonade from the lemon. I will use my HIV+ status to raise awareness and funds, to breakdown discrimination and stigma, and to facilitate personal growth in others and in myself. I will effect change. And I will do it through the power of the spoken word, through motivational speaking.

My mantra as I embark on this new transition, this new life path? The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.

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