Humans of INKspire

Dereck Toker

“I guess the most difficult thing I’ve ever done is having to go through a divorce. So I got married right at the beginning of my Master’s, which was about five years ago, and about two years ago I went through a separation and now a divorce and having two kids and having a PhD and having to go through all of that has been one of the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through. I had to take a year off of school basically to focus on dealing with the logistics, the emotional things and everything but coming out of that I would say I’m a much stronger, happier more balanced person so there was a very good reward at the end of that very difficult time.”

“What was the biggest thing you learned?”

“I would say the biggest thing I learned is to do what you want to do for yourself regardless of what anyone else and not trying to make anybody else happy but yourself. I think that unless you’re genuinely happy and doing what you find fulfilling for yourself you’ll never be able to have anything to give to anyone else.

You know, people can spend a lot of time worrying about what everyone else thinks about them and trying to do things they know is going to make their parents happy, make their friends happy or make their significant other happy, but at the end of the day that’ll eventually catch up with you. You end up in a place where you’ve only made decisions to make everyone happy but yourself.

The sooner you start doing the things you always knew you wanted to do, or that one thing that you were too afraid to do, you’re more balanced, centred and loving. You attract a whole different group of people into your life and the people that are already in your life will enjoy being around you that much more.”

“What motivates you every single day?”

“I mean I’m not always motivated. Things are more dynamic than that. It’s like surfing — you’ve got days where things are crazy, when things are calm, when things are inspiring, days when things are boring and terrible. Over time, you learn how to connect all those puzzle pieces together and see a bigger picture. So I guess what keeps me motivated is just always trying to like keep an eye on the bigger picture and not let individual things on a daily basis lead me to be too carried away or too under motivated.””

“Would you change anything in the past?”

“That’s a really difficult question to answer because there’s a lot of events that happened by pure chance that had a big impact on me. You learn a lot from those events. But in order to learn these things, you have to go through a trial and error process and make mistakes. Progress isn’t always a straight line or a straight path. So I don’t think there’s really anything I would change significantly.”

“What was the scariest thing you’ve ever done?”

“Probably ziplining in Mexico for my brother’s wedding, that was like honestly so scary. I had to like bail out halfway between the towers. That scared me in a way that I’ve never felt before. It was like a very physical, base fear. Everyone else tells me they had a great time, but definitely not me.”

“What’s your favorite memory with your kids?”

“I think the best was last summer when we went camping. It was a really scary idea because I didn’t know if we could pull it off, but we loaded up the car and we drove to Vancouver Island’s Sprout Lake. We rented a canoe and just camped together. I brought them out on the canoe and we paddled on the water, played at the beach and cooked together… Just realizing that we could pull it off is great because kids can just make your life miserable. Like if they don’t listen, or they’re running around and tearing things apart. But we learned a lot about cooperation and helping each other out, and it was a really good experience. They still talk about it now, so we’re doing that in a couple of weeks. I guess it’s going to be a yearly camping trip together. So I’m looking forward to that.

“Who inspires you?”

“I’ve been asked that question before and i think that has changed a lot over time. I’ve been inspired by a lot of people over the course of my life, but at this very moment as a parent, as somebody that is really trying to grow into somebody more mature… I guess I’m trying to find it within myself. There’s people that do things that are amazing, but rather than trying to understand how they did it, or trying to be more like them, I’m trying to do things in my own life that give me inspiration from within.”

“What is the main takeaway you want to share with others?”

“I think the main takeaway is just embracing your own story and realizing that while it can be scary to share your experiences, the more genuine you are and accepting of yourself the more people are going to be attracted to that.

You can’t be afraid of what other people are going to think because it’s your life and your story. Learning from others experiences and sharing your own fosters greater empathy, which teaches you how to be the better person you know you can become.”

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