It’s Always Now is the inspiring story about a young man who fell from a balcony in Spain, fell into a coma, and had to rebuild his whole life from scratch.He had to learn to walk again, and he had to figure out again who he is. That young man is Jeroen Walravens and he will be Kevin's studio guest today.
14-11-2016 - by Kevin Van der Straeten
It’s Always Now is the inspiring story about a young man who fell from a balcony in Spain, fell into a coma, and had to rebuild his whole life from scratch.He had to learn to walk again, and he had to figure out again who he is. That young man is Jeroen Walravens and he will be my studio guest today.
Hi Jeroen, welcome to our studio.
You have a fascinating story. What happened?
Well, in September of 2007 I gradually became aware that I was in a hospital. I didn’t know why. People told me I had been in a coma for a month, and, as far as I was concerned, no problem, I’ll be home soon. Friends come by, family visits, people bring my dinner, I have a TV, but it turned out, things weren’t that simple.
You realized there was something more.
Yeah. I couldn’t walk, could barely talk, couldn’t stand, I couldn’t even sit up straight. I was basically a vegetable.
What happened, you had an accident then?
Yeah. In my younger years I was quite a risk taker. I went wall climbing pretty often, and while we were on holidays, I decided to climb to the open kitchen window of our apartment, instead of walking through the front door.
That doesn’t sound like a good idea.
No, apparently not.
So you fell down, ended up in the hospital, and then you suddenly realized… How old were you then?
You are 21, go out to parties, do some climbing, and then you realize: I’m in the hospital, I can’t do anything anymore.
Yeah, my life was over. And that’s when I started re-evaluating my life. I couldn’t manage to be me. Me was Jeroen, partied a lot, drank a lot, drove his car way too fast, went wall climbing, had friends, girls; that was my life. And I couldn’t manage to fulfill those roles I had identified myself with.
Did you try to go back to the party life?
Yeah, for sure.
But that didn’t work out?
I couldn’t stay awake for half a day. I couldn’t stand up. So I just sat there, at a party, and looked around, nervous, very tired. So that was disappointment after disappointment after disappointment. Then I realized, hey, this might be a blessing in disguise, because I get to start all over again.
Did you really see it as a blessing?
Yeah, it took me a while. At first there was lots of anger, pain, hurt, darkness, but in the midst of that I saw something. I asked myself, how did I end up here? What are the choices I made to live this life, to have this scenario? Then I realized that I’d made lots of mistakes in the past. But those are the things I did, those are the stories about me. That’s not who I am as a person. Who I am as a person is, I’m a good guy, I’m a good person. And I have made mistakes, I have made choices, did some things, and that’s how I ended up here. But the person I am… I’m a good person. And a good person doesn’t deserve to have this as an outcome.
Do I understand it correctly if you say, everything in our life is a choice?
Yeah, basically. But the problem is, we’re not aware of that. We’re not conscious. We don’t’ consciously decide where we’re going, always. We just react to circumstances, to other people, to our own inclinations. The problem is, we define ourselves, we define our lives. We say, yeah, I’m good at that, I don’t like that, I like this. And that way the scope of our possibilities gets smaller and smaller and smaller. And we’re quite trapped. We trap ourselves in our reality. But if you’re aware, and if you take time to reflect on where you’re at, there’s so much more for you. You have no idea of what’s possible.
And that’s because of the fact that we think we are limited in our capacities.
Yeah, people really don’t like not knowing. We’ll prefer a known negative outcome over an unknown. What I always say is, we have no idea. We have no idea of what we’re capable of, of our possibilities, of what’s possible for us in this lifetime. But we don’t like that. We prefer to say, I’m not good at math, or, I can’t dance, or, I get nervous around girls, or around men. And in that way, we just make our reality smaller. We limit our possibilities. And yeah, that’s a shame. Because this is the one chance we have, this life. It hurts me when I see people limiting themselves.
You started a whole new life.
You just wrote a book, It’s Always Now, based on your experiences.
You coach people who want to take a change in their life. If you want to take a change in your life, what does it take?
Well, I think the first thing - and I was more or less forced to do it - is to analyze. To take a rest and analyze where you’re at, and who you are, and what your life is like, and how come, and what choices have I made, and where do I want to go? What life do I want for myself?
Jeroen, thank you very much for coming over to our studio.
And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.