INSIGHT: Life is all about the lessons you learn along the way

Life is all about the lessons you learn along the way. This is something I wish I’d understood many years ago.

I’m Will Ford, a passionate car guy, electronics geek, and computer nerd. When I’m not in the garage working on my car, you’ll find me spending time with my family, behind a computer screen doing anything from building websites, apps and games, to writing how-to guides or editing photos and video. I love more than anything, sharing the knowledge I’ve gained through my experiences, so here’s my story.

Growing up I always knew there was something a little bit different about me, and I was diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder at about 12 years of age, as well as mild Asperger’s syndrome. I struggled to fit in socially because I was different enough to stand out, but not different enough to be understood, and found myself really struggling to deal with day to day activities which others seemed to breeze through as if they were nothing. Stepping outside my comfort zone was near impossible for me, and this restricted me in so many ways. As an example, I can remember one afternoon in November of 1994, we had a massive thunderstorm which ended up with our family house being severely damaged and car written off by a fallen tree. After that event, any time the weatherman predicted strong winds, I would be literally sick and shaking with anxiety, even if it wasn’t predicted for another 5 days. This anxiety affected every area of my life, from activities to relationships.

This anxiety was completely crippling for me, and I felt like absolutely no one understood, which ultimately lead to depression and loneliness. After years of medication and visits to my psychologist, I finally realised that lack of control was at the core of my anxiety problems, and I was able to start taking the control back. I discovered that by studying the things I was afraid of, it made me feel much more in control. To use my previous example, if the weatherman predicted strong winds, I could look at the charts and see exactly what was going to happen and when, and make sure I wasn’t going to be in any danger. I couldn’t control the weather, but I could control my safety at least to some extent.

Up until this point in my life I had always internalised my emotions, but I realised this was destructive behaviour. How could anyone understand me if they were never given the opportunity? I began opening up to my friends about how I was feeling and for the most part, found that while people may not necessarily understand, they could at least sympathise with what I was experiencing, and that alone was a big comfort. I also found that by doing this, a lot of other people started opening up to me about their own struggles. I discovered that I was able to draw upon my experiences which until that point had been negative, and use them to help other people, which in turn transformed them into something positive.

Growing up I had always been passionate about modifying stuff, whether it be computers, bikes, cars or just about anything else. When I purchased my first decent car, I immediately started modifying it, applying the same principals I had been using in other facets of my life. I researched everything as much as possible in order to minimise the risk of something going wrong, but I still felt huge levels of anxiety every time I started a project. It was a conflicting emotional state because I loved the rush of doing something myself, but the fear of screwing up always spoiled a lot of the enjoyment, and often restricted me from doing what I really wanted to do. This often led to me paying other people to do work I was perfectly capable of doing myself, just because I couldn’t handle the stress of it, and ultimately left me disappointed.

With all this in mind, fast forward to March 2014. I was a few days from picking up my brand new Subaru BRZ, and was feeling massive anxiety about all the things I wanted to do with the car. I wasn’t interested in owning a stock BRZ, but was terrified I’d screw something up and ruin my brand new car. With all the lessons I’d learned from analysing my self-developed coping mechanisms, I decided to try something really crazy.

I decided to document the entire project, from picking up the car and driving it home for the first time (which I was freaking out about, as it was a 2 hour drive in unfamiliar territory in an unfamiliar car), to ultimately doubling its power output with all the supporting mods to suit. I would document all of my experiences, good and bad. That way I’d be forced out of my comfort zone and to deal with my anxiety in constructive ways.

I had done a bit of video editing work before, but had never been in front of a camera, so I decided to just make it completely raw. I would just be myself and upload my experiences, reviews and guides. If people watched, cool. If not, that’s fine because it was helping me overcome my anxiety.

I started the project 2 years ago now, and have built my BRZ up in to something I’m very proud of. The project has been far more successful than I ever imagined, and the friends and contacts I’ve made are worth far more to me than the car will ever be. Sure there are still times when I really struggle, but knowing that there are other people out there that feel the same, and that I can use my experience to help others is a massive encouragement. Above all, I’ve learned to not be ashamed of my struggles, but rather be open about them and not be afraid to ask for help when I need it. This has improved every area of my life, and having recently become a father, it’s been an extremely valuable coping mechanism in my times of struggle. Who would have thought I’d learn so much just from owning and modifying a car.

Life is all about the lessons you learn along the way. In writing this, my hope is that if you’re struggling with similar things to me, you can draw some positivity from it, and perhaps even apply some of the lessons I’ve learned on my journey to your own. I’ve developed some practical ways I can apply this statement in my own life, and I hope my story can help you to do the same.

You can check out Will’s Subaru BRZ project and watch his video series on YouTube.


If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out. Call 13 11 14 for Lifeline’s 24hr Telephone Crisis Support or contact a mental health professional. If you are looking for other mental health resources, please browse our Find Help page.

If a life is in danger call 000 immediately.

Author: Will Ford

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