Wanted: inspiration!

Who or what inspires you? How do you resonate with that inspiration and, more importantly, what do you do with it?

When I think of people who’ve truly inspired me, not many people come to mind … but Michael Jackson was and still is the most talented and influential person I’ve ever known. Why Michael, you may ask? Well, in a way I can relate to his life. He was a lonesome child who grew up to become one of the most gifted performers, who explored his talent from a young age and invested all of it in his life. When on stage, he seemed to be happy and at peace, performing and displaying his God-given talent so eloquently and effortlessly.

Growing up, I spent most of my young life exploring who I thought I was – an athlete, the best my school ever discovered. I excelled in modern and contemporary dancing, karate and other extramural activities. I was a perfectionist and did everything with the love for that activity. A large framed picture of Michael that I bought after his death still hangs in my bedroom. When all else fails, it helps me to look at him and then I can rise up again, renewed and inspired.

Everyone needs someone to look up to. It could be a mentor or a celebrity, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day it all boils down to who or what feeds your motivation as you journey along. Life is the best teacher. As we grow older we start to realise that we have very little to do with the misfortunes it brings and everything to do with how we react to them. I think of Michael and how he was the centre of so much attention, from his innocent childhood right through his complex and misunderstood adulthood. Even in his difficult times he remained shy and humble, and I adored him regardless of how the media portrayed him. Michael remains an inspiration to me.

There are tough things to face in life, whether you’re a struggling, unemployed graduate, or a disabled person relying on government grants … and even if you’re wealthy. There are always challenges to overcome; we need to remain content with who we are and where we find ourselves.


Emilie Olifant is a disability activist, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. She is the director of the Emilie Olifant Foundation, an organisation that strives to address socio-economic issues experienced by people with disabilities. email: emilie.olifant@gmail.com

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