After feeling a little sick at 19, Amy Purdy suddenly went into septic shock. She was rushed to the hospital, place into a coma and put on life support. She would likely die, doctors said.
Purdy survived the bacterial infection. But her legs did not. Doctors amputated both legs below the knee.
Nevertheless, Amy used her new body not as an excuse but as an inspiration. She became a world-class snowboarder. A two-time Paralympic bronze medalist, and one-time silver medalist (making her the most decorated U.S. Paralympic snowboarder in history). A model. An author. A competitor on Dancing with the Stars and The Amazing Race. An actress who has appeared in a Madonna music video. A motivational speaker who has shared the stage with Oprah. And a philanthropist who founded Adaptive Action Sports, which helps those with disabilities.
We were both speakers at a recent QuickBooks event in California, and I had the pleasure of spending some time with Amy to talk fame, age rules and what it means to live authentically. Here are highlights.
Regan Walsh: You say that losing your legs made you keenly aware of your mortality at a young age—and that you’re grateful for that. Why?
Amy Purdy: It taught me at a young age that all that really matters is your family, your friends, if you have healthy relationships, if your body is healthy. You have the ability to chase your dreams and do anything as long as you are grounded and healthy.
Walsh: How did you stay grounded while competing on Dancing with the Stars, when your fame suddenly skyrocketed?
Purdy: I can’t say that I was grounded, to be honest, while I was on Dancing with the Stars. It was such a surreal experience. Seventy-two hours after I won my medal in Sochi, I was dancing live in front of millions of people. There was not even a moment to breathe. Suddenly it was like lights, camera, action, sparkles and eyelashes—and I was on that train for the next three months. I was just hanging on for dear life through the whole thing. I’m so grateful I made it to the end, because it was such an incredible experience. But really, the staying grounded part came afterward.
Walsh: How so?
Purdy: My life had totally changed: I’d step out the door and people recognized me and wanted autographs. Instantly, going home grounded me and made me grateful for what I had. My husband is there, and we water our plants and cook dinner together and look outside and see nature. And you realize, OK, that’s was fun, but this is what’s really important.
Walsh: Along those lines, you recently posted something that said, Let’s stop chasing and live the life right in front of us. What does that mean to you?
Purdy: Honestly, it’s just being present, being able to breathe.
Walsh: What prompted the post?
Purdy: I was actually feeling a lot of pressure with social media. Honestly, I’m living my dreams. I am doing what I’ve worked so hard to do, and I love it. I’ve always wanted to travel, and I get to do it for my job. So can’t I just feel successful with that instead of waking up in the morning feeling like, Oh, I forgot to do a post today, and if I don’t post this morning, then I’m out of the algorithm? There’s this pressure of somehow not being enough and not doing enough simply because social media kind of tells you that. So that’s why I wrote that post. Slow down. Stop chasing. Stop trying to find what we don’t have and embrace what we do have today.
Walsh: I talk a lot with my clients about shedding the shoulds. I love listening to people bold enough to shed those. Which you are clearly doing with this.
Purdy: That’s the most relevant should I’ve felt recently: You should post every day, because why do social if you’re not going to do it properly, right? There are just times I feel like I should be posting, I should be including my audience in my life. But the shoulds are what completely stress you out. It’s not what you should be doing, it’s what feels right to you. We should not fight it. If that doesn’t feel right, that’s not what anybody should be doing. Tomorrow’s my 39th birthday. This is my last year in my 30s, which is crazy. I’m not going to live this thinking I should be doing anything.
Walsh: Speaking of age, you believe firmly there are no rules in life—particularly when it comes to age. Why?
Purdy: It wasn’t until I was 30 that I decided I wanted to be the best I could be physically, mentally, emotionally. And that’s when I decided to become an athlete. So I feel like you can be whatever it is you want to be at any time you want to be it. There really are no rules. It’s just up to you. We tend to live by these rules of how old we are, and what that means with what we can do. We put these different limitations on ourselves. If it feels right and it feels good, then do that.
Walsh: You advise people not to focus on what they want to do but rather focus on who they want to be. What does that mean?
Purdy: Focus on who you want to be, and be it today.
Walsh: Any personal examples you can share?
Purdy: It’s kind of funny. I have these different prosthetic legs. Some of them are really cool, like running blades—cool shapes and stuff. And I’ve always wanted to work with these photographers. I’ve thought it could be creative and different. I kind of sat back and waited for photographers to call me. Nobody did. I decided if this is what I want to be and what I want to be doing, then do it. So I did it. I hired a photographer, and I did all these cool, different things with my legs. And what’s so amazing is that I posted a couple of these photos, and then all of sudden the photographers started showing up. Whatever it is you want to be, be it. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the opportunity, create the opportunity. It’s kind of amazing how you don’t have to wait for permission.
Walsh: Amen to that. It’s been quite a life. What’s next?
Purdy: Everybody—and I’m one of these people too—tells you to shoot for the stars. But nobody really tells you what to do when you get there. So that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I just want to be as authentic to myself as I possibly can be. And I’m not doing the shoulds. I’m doing what feels right to me, so we’ll see where that leads me.
Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/reganwalsh/2018/11/26/amy-purdy-on-losing-limbs-gaining-perspective-breaking-the-so-called-rules/#7ca351cf5355