You won’t always succeed in life and sometimes there are bumps in the road. Whilst we’d all love a life of plain sailing it’s often the challenges and tests thrown at us that make us stronger, more confident people.
Back in 2013 I started a Coursera course on HIV/AIDS which I wasn’t able to finish. Work and other commitments meant I wasn’t able to find the time to complete the assignments and I ended up abandoning it altogether. It was the right thing to do at the time but I did regret not finishing it. More than anything much of the content was really interesting and I found myself learning new things about the virus that even I didn’t know about despite at that point having lived with HIV for 3 years.
Since quitting I kept an eye on courses in case another appeared but there was little joy, until a few weeks ago when I noticed a new course “Global Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)”. I’ve had a great time geeking out reading the information and watching the various lectures, covering topics that I’m familiar with, STIs and HIV, but also about aspects of sexual health I don’t always engage in such as Global Policies in SRHR and Youth Sexual Health, Maternal and Reproductive Health and Contraception and Fertility.
It’s great to be able to engage with something that’s connected to my passions and learn at the same time. I had another new experience last week, featuring in a film about the Terrence Higgins Trust’s myHIV service which will be shown at a fundraising dinner next month.
It was really strange sitting in front of a lens talking about my life with HIV, reliving how I’d searched for support that was right for me and easy to access, and how I had found myHIV, made some amazing friends and eventually decided to become one of their peer support volunteers, helping other people with their diagnosis, or answering their questions about medication, relationships or employment issues.
What was weirder was later walking around town, or gazing out across the river Irwell, and standing still in the middle of Market Street whilst the camera focused on me several metres away. Unfortunately I’ll be experiencing it all again next week due to some unforeseen circumstances but hopefully it will still come across as natural and I’ll be less nervous now I’m familiar with the process!
Life isn’t always straightforward and uncomplicated. Sometimes, whether planned or otherwise we have to try again or revisit old ground. What’s important is making the most out of these second opportunities,. We’re not always lucky enough to have them!
This article previously appeared in Alex’s own blog HIV & Me here.