Redefining Discomfort: A Courageous Choice of Hope | Katerina Karaindrou | TEDxMoraitisSchoolFeb 23, 2022
good afternoon everyone, I am very happy and honored to be a part of this event speaking with you today. I'd like to start my talk by asking you probably the most random question you'll ever be asked about this event and it's your diary? no but you actually write how your day was and your thoughts your fears your goals i do that and its something i definitely recommend but the reason i bring it up is because the source of my post today is something i wrote two years ago on my diary so if you will allow me i would like to start this speech by asking you by actually reading this diary entry to you and i
hopethe message behind it can reach you in a meaningful way so here it is this is from two years ago wednesday the morning, end of August 2018.
Mom wakes me up at six in the morning. It's still dark outside, but also inside. The lights in the room are on, but it feels dark. It feels cold. wearing gowns and just holding a clear plastic bag with some liquid inside and the word chemotherapy written on it as you understand i'm not home i haven't been in a while and won't be soon for the last eight months i've been in germany receiving treatment for my cancer i'm afraid i won't have a chance to go home about two weeks ago i had surgery where they removed the tumor and with it a third of my leg and knee and replaced it all with a prosthesis that if you think i guess it's cool that science can do that right now i mean it's cool but the surgery had complications and my leg is now paralyzed i don't know if i'll ever be able to walk again as the nurse removes the bandages around me my leg screamed in pain is there something you might be able to give her for the pain my mom asks I'm sorry but now she's already maxed out on morphine there's nothing else we can give her right now the nurse answers i close my eyes as tight as ever and every cell part of my body is just praying and hoping and wishing that when i open them again i'll be home and pain free and getting ready for school like everyone else, But every time I open my eyes again, the picture doesn't change, god, if you're listening, it'll ever get better, I'll ever get better, the pain will never stop, I mean why doesn't it stop? feeling trapped look what i didn't realize when i wrote that two years ago was that even though i thought i was stuck in my pain i wasn't really stuck in the
discomfortof my body but in the comfort of my mind look i was stuck in the despair of fear bound by worry and chained to exhaustion and why do I refer to these things as comfort because they were in my comfort zone so my question to you today is have you ever felt trapped in the comfort of your mind in your insecurity? your loneliness your weakness your fear and the opinion of another n about you and what society expects you to be in your regret your anxiety your doubt and if so how do you get out look what I realized from my own experience is that when you are locked up in the prison cell of your own mind the only way to escape and get out is to redefine the bars of the cell, the edges that keep you locked in, see your edge is your
discomfortright, and whatever that discomfort for you in your life, in order to redefine it we have to look at the function it serves, but you see, to find the purpose behind the pain we need the specific perspective, so today we will explore this function of discovery through the perspective of three different words, these words are familiarity, struggle and freedom, these three simple words. today will help us escape, but let's start from the beginning right before we can begin to understand the function of discomfort, we must first overcome the threat of familiarity, see when something is familiar, it's common, right? when something is common it's comfortable but that's a problem and that's a problem because when you become so familiar to comfort it becomes dysfunctional look at comfort it doesn't challenge familiarity it doesn't feed your faith it doesn't provide your strength it doesn't develop your resolve but what it does it's that your comfort controls how you deal with your discomfort because this is what comfort tells you to give up don't
hopedon't take chances it tells you to worry be afraid don't chase that dream you don't chase that passion or you can't do that , that is impossible and yet we listen to the comfort and we choose the comfort and we run back to the comfort, because well, because it is easier to see that living discouraged, bitter and worried is easier, much easier than putting up and fighting. and trying and many times we settle for what is easier for what works for what is comfortable because there is no fear in familiarity there is no risk and see that we are so afraid of risk of hope that c We choose to become familiar with our area of comfort, but as a result, what we escape to becomes what we are trapped in.
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redefining discomfort a courageous choice of hope katerina karaindrou tedxmoraitisschool...
Think about it. We escape familiarity, but the dysfunctionality of comfort traps us, and that's exactly what makes it a threat because it traps us. a state in which we choose what is comforting over what takes courage and many times we feel so trapped that we start to believe that staying trapped is our only option than staying depressed staying alone staying bitter staying hopeless is our only option but it is not like this never, there is always a second option, which also happens to be our second word, you can give up and stay in your comfort zone, I do not recommend it, but you can do it or you can go out and fight, and how do you do it? well you choose to be brave that's how you see being brave means to push and persevere through the pain it means to risk hope no matter how impossible it seems or how difficult it becomes being brave means being bold enough to pursue your passion even when all the odds are stacked against you and it also means being resilient enough to keep fighting even when you feel like there's no more fight left in you you see it's about having the unconditional trust that maybe one day tomorrow will be better than maybe there's a light at the end of this that maybe there's a reason for your fight a lot of people call it delusion i call it determination a lot of people call it false hope i call it faith look it's all about what you call it and if you really think about it redefine discomfort is really a matter of perspective because once you see your story of suffering as a source of strength, weakness becomes sform in power, but for that to happen, you have to be brave now a lot. people's reaction when I tell them that it's very easy for you to say well maybe you're brave maybe that person is brave but but what do I do I'm not brave I don't feel brave but look what I think many people don't What I don't What I understand is that being brave is not something you are by default it's something you become by
choiceno one is inherently brave but anyone can become instantly because being brave is not a feeling it's a brave
choiceI hope you see the reaction of many people. when I tell them the important thing about being brave is that well maybe that's the case but even if that's the case I'm not strong enough to make that decision I'm not strong enough you don't have to be you am. not strong enough either, but i don't have to be, you know why, because that's exactly what it means to be brave, even if i'm not strong enough, even if i'm not prepared, equipped and ready enough, even though i'm afraid and the odds they are against me and it seems impossible i choose to go through with it anyway for the first six or seven months of my treatment i was on this extremely aggressive very high dose chemo protocol where i basically would have to stay in the hospital for 25 days every month and 14 of those days would be spent in the isolation ward of high-risk intensive care for extremely immunocompromised patients for weeks.
I would pass out completely unconscious from the drugs and then all of a sudden I would get up, wake up, throw up and then. I fell and passed out one night. I remember in particular that I was with my mom in the bathroom and I remember looking up and looking in the mirror and not even recognizing myself. I started to cry. and you could smell the chemo in my tears at some point i looked at my mom and asked her mom how i got here what happened to me where did i go while we were walking back from the bathroom i just stopped in the middle of the hall i didn't have the strength to take another step My mom gave me a big hug and while I stayed in her arms crying desperately I asked her mom how much longer I have to put up with it I can't do this anymore I don't have any more pain I don't have to suffer anymore, I just can't stand this for longer and this didn't just happen one night, it happened every night of every chemo and every night of every surgery to the point that it even became something that our family would just stand in the middle of the hallway hug and cry together stay brave that's what i told myself but i was so tired of fighting i was so tired and terrified and the reason why i was so afraid to keep fighting was because i knew the things i would have to fight but stay brave that's what i told myself stay brave just because you can last just five more minutes please just five more minutes.
I can hold on, you can hold on for just five more minutes I begged myself so I stayed brave for another five minutes and then after those five minutes for another five and another five and another five and I made it through a year and a half of treatment. 14 rounds of che intense motherapy nine surgeries countless sleepless nights five minutes at a time stay brave five minutes at a time not because i was strong that was the exact opposite i was not strong i tried hard to be strong but my hands had grown tired from holding on so tight and my soldiers had grown tired and weak just holding on and carrying this unbearable weight of pain and suffering for so long I wasn't strong I was weak helpless lifeless powerless I wasn't strong but the fact that I'm standing here today, the fact that every I get up tomorrow, go to school, sit in a classroom and talk about electromagnetism, thermodynamics and the French revolution, the fact that there is a breath in my lungs and my heart continues to beat, it screams that force does not it's a requirement to survive you don't need to be strong enough to do it you don't need to have it all figured out you don't need to understand you don't need to pretend you don't need to if you are to be fearless all you need to do is be brave in the face of that fear be brave in the face of the odds be brave in the face of the impossible and choose to keep going anyway and yes stepping out of your comfort zone is hard staying brave is hard to choose hoping and keeping hoping is hard and you know what even getting out of bed in the morning is hard some days but you know what else is in every day worth it worth it you might not see it now while it's hard that night I didn't that night I was a disaster either, but look at this, it was only in that disaster that a message of hope was formed and look, it's the message that makes the disaster worth it, whatever that message is for you in your life, whether it's a message of gratitude self love appreciation kindness forgiveness empathy compassion i don't even know but whatever the message makes the mess worth the growth makes the pain worth it a but see here's the thing the edge of mess only reveals itself when you're on the brink of your mess when you're ready to give up when you're ready to let go when you're so close to giving up but it's up to you it's up to you to carry on fighting it's up to you to stay brave and i hope it's up to you not to give up and you know what happens when you don't give up miracles not necessarily big maybe small everyday miracles like waking up and getting out of bed in the morning with a breath in your lungs beating in your heart and a smile on your face or go outside and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin or see your family and give them a hug you know those are the kind of miracles you start to appreciate and notice when you redefine the awkward right perspective but Of course, there are bigger miracles too, like we can't forget about them, we can't ignore them, and in fact, I'd like to share one of those bigger miracles with you today, as you s I said before for a year and a half. i was in germany for treatment and during that time my biggest goal or one of my biggest goals was to just fly home for a few days between chemo blocks and pass my final exam and graduate like that was my biggest goal ever what i thought about everything i waited for months but you see at the end of may i was admitted to the hospital with multiple severe infections and at that time i was very very sick i just had my bone marrow done my immune system was practically non existent my white blood cells were not even detectable i needed blood transfusions and platelets every few days i was maxed out on morphine so many antibiotics so many meds injections like the doctors didn't know what else to give me but none of it worked i didn't get better on my ownit got worse and actually i got much worse than just a week before we were supposed to fly home like the tickets we had the tickets everything was ready but only a week before we were supposed to fly i did it i i got much worse the doctors told us there was just no way i was going to get home on time they said there was no way i would survive the flight home with that kind of immune system.
They said it was impossible for that immune system to regenerate that fast and as if your immune system could go from zero to ten in two days as if it was impossible. we canceled the flight and i was devastated you know i lost all strength and hope to fight to keep trying but the story is not over yet there was a doctor my oncologist who didn't give up on me and i interpreted it as a kind of message from above that the story hasn't ended yet that it hasn't ended there is more life to believe and believe that I just can't give up yet not yet and see from that message for that doctor who kept fighting for my dream I chose to fight for him too to wait for it and I really think it was because of that hope that two days after we were told that traveling was simply impossible, there was a sudden increase in all my blood counts and just two weeks later I was not only back home, I had already passed all my final exams and was walking for the first time in six months i was walking i had been in a wheelchair for six months but now i was still walking with a massive tumor on my knee illa kind of pressing against my bones, every step I took I could feel that tumor and yet I was walking across the school auditorium stage to receive my diploma, but if you really think about it, actually, that wasn't just walk across the stage it was an impossible ride that night for everyone else it was just a random tuesday night but for me that night was everything, it was everything because it showed me that anything is possible if you're determined enough and if you're brave enough to keep going fighting to keep hoping because let's be honest, many times the only way you can fight is by holding on to hope and that's okay because that's where our third word comes from: freedom, freedom from the chains of hopelessness, freedom.
From the prison cell of our comfort zone and freedom from the borders that keep us locked in, so how do you get that freedom? I'm glad you asked. I think it all boils down. stay stuck or you will choose to stay brave and before you answer i want to leave you today with the words of one of my surgeons which i think will greatly affect your answer so this doctor was who he was. my surgeon here in greece the one who did my biopsy found my cancer and we instantly became best friends and have been best friends ever since so we were on the phone one night talking and something happened and i was very scared for my life in that time and we were talking on the phone and i told him about it and he told me to be brave and that was the first time i heard about the thing that you know how to be brave and at first i was like you know what and i remember asking him what it was like i could can i really be brave when i'm so scared when i'm so tired when i'm so broken can i really be brave then and he stopped for a minute and then he said to me you don't understand this do you? the only time you can be brave so i chose to be brave and stay brave the question is will you thank yourself?
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