Diverse-Abilities Matters Podcast

Self Advocate George Doykov shares his olympic successes and thoughts on friendship and family

July 19, 2019 Nathalie Callender/ Devon Bruce/ George Doykov Season 1 Episode 3
Diverse-Abilities Matters Podcast
Self Advocate George Doykov shares his olympic successes and thoughts on friendship and family
Chapters
Diverse-Abilities Matters Podcast
Self Advocate George Doykov shares his olympic successes and thoughts on friendship and family
Jul 19, 2019 Season 1 Episode 3
Nathalie Callender/ Devon Bruce/ George Doykov

George Doykov talks about his Special Olympics successes and why he likes to play sport. He discusses his acting career, his employment and shares his thoughts about family and friendship.

Nathalie and Devon then discuss their take on friendship and how they view and experience friendship differently.. 

Support the show (https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/10606)

Show Notes Transcript

George Doykov talks about his Special Olympics successes and why he likes to play sport. He discusses his acting career, his employment and shares his thoughts about family and friendship.

Nathalie and Devon then discuss their take on friendship and how they view and experience friendship differently.. 

Support the show (https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/10606)

Nathalie:

Welcome to Diversabilities Matters. I'm Nathalie Callender.

Devon:

I'm Devon Bruce

Nathalie:

and we're here to talk about everything inclusion and diversity and everything that matters to people with diverse abilities .

Devon:

Absolutely. We're excited to be in a new space today. Previously we we r e re cording in Nathalie's apartment in a small room, a n d we ar e ha ving some issues with the sound as we had construction going on in the background. So fortunately, w e 've secured a place, , in the North Vancouver City Library, i t 's an enclosed recording space.

Nathalie:

It's pretty exciting. This space is brand new. It's a really cool room and you can film video in here as well.

Devon:

Yeah, it just makes us feel a little bit more legit now.

Nathalie:

Yup. It's hot and sweaty in here though and we can't have the fan on. So you're lucky y ou can't see us because the guys are g oing t o be dripping

Devon:

yeah, exactly. So I think it might be time to introduce our guests , for our podcast today. His name is George Doykof. He's been associated with ConneXions for many, many years and I've personally known him for about eight years through Special Olympics in the community and , through my work. George, welcome to our show. Thank you for joining us. George, maybe you can tell us a little bit about what you've done with ConneXions and how long you've been involved.

George:

Well, I have been involved with ConneXions for probably 20 years.

Devon:

since you were 14 years old, long time . Was that when you moved to Canada? Yeah. And you're from , where abouts originally?

George:

I'm from Bulgaria, Sophia. Between Romania and Greece.

Nathalie:

I did not know that.

George:

It's a very small country.

Devon:

Have you been back many times?

George:

Yes I've been back many times, yeas

Devon:

That's great. Excellent. I hear you're quite involved with sports. Actually I've more than heard because that's where I first met you is at Special Olympics at track and field. Can you tell us a little bit about the sports that you play and some of your biggest accomplishments?

George:

Ok. Well I started Special Olympics since 2002. I started to play five pin bowling and swimming too and then throughout my years I got involved in golf, track and field, booci and softball. The spring time and doing golf, track and field, booci and softball.

Nathalie:

That's pretty busy.

Devon:

You play a lot of different sports. Yeah . Very active. Now I know you've had a pretty big accomplishment in the last year or so. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

George:

Okay. In 2017 I went to the Provincial Games for track and field, running, and then I came home with three gold medals. They are all first place.

Nathalie:

Wow. That's pretty incredible. That's pretty good.

George:

Yes. For my 100 metre run, my 200 metre run. And standing Long Jump

Nathalie:

What do you like so much about being involved in Special Olympics?

George:

I like all my friends.

Devon:

Excellent. Do you have a favorite sports, one of the ones that you like the most?

George:

No. No ? No .

Nathalie:

That's pretty cool. You like them all evenly spread the love? Yeah. Wow. Very cool.

Devon:

The other thing, kind of a big deal about you, George. A lot of people seem to know. Yeah. Is that you got some acting jobs. What? Can you tell us a little bit about your time in , in acting and what you did, where you went?

George:

Good . Well, first of all, my friend's son got married and he saw me, making a video with my very own video camera and he said to me "oh George, do you know what? there is one chance for you in Los Angeles and my mom was like, Whoa.

Nathalie:

For those of you listening you can't actually see George. But he's really good looking. So it's no surprise that they wanted him in Hollywood. What was your first movie called? I forgot the name .

Devon:

Do you remember what it was about?

George:

No

Nathalie:

I saw one that was a western, like where everyone was shooting each other.

George:

Oh yeah

Nathalie:

That was a really funny one. And you were the drunk guy at the bar.

Devon:

I remember seeing one where you were a pirate. That was a pretty good one too. So you used to fly down every year to Hollywood to film. Wow. That's amazing. What a cool experience.

George:

I flew down by myself.

Nathalie:

So one of the reasons why we do this podcast called diverse abilities matters is to showcase a whole lot of the really cool things that people can do and all the diverse abilities that are out there and you're movie career is pretty exciting.

Devon:

That's awesome. George, do you do much in the way of volunteering or do you have a job?

George:

Yes, I do have a job n ow f or 16 years

Nathalie:

So who do you work for?

George:

West Shore Constructors

Nathalie:

And what do you do there for them?

George:

I take the garbage out and the recycling. I mop the hallway.

Nathalie:

It's a pretty important job. Yeah. Yeah.

Devon:

Much needed. What do you like about working there o r what do you like about working in general?

George:

I'm making money.

Devon:

Making some money. Yeah, that sounds good. And do you also volunteer a few places

George:

Yes, I volunteer for the Salvation Army. the Harvest Project, Silver Harbour, John Braithwaite Community Centre and The Summit too.

Nathalie:

How do you find time to do anything else? Have you got a girlfriend or a boyfriend? Well that explains it. How would you fit that?

Devon:

Yeah

George:

Yeah, I'm so busy.

Devon:

Oh , that's wonderful. It's so good. You know, honestly, it's great to stay active and keep out and doing things, especially if you're contributing to your community. I think that's really cool.

Nathalie:

It's really cool. And I'm sure those organizations really appreciate it. Yeah. Okay. So , as someone with diverse abilities or someone that identifies as having a disability, are there challenges for you in getting around the environment, getting around the community?

George:

Sometimes yes there is sometimes challenges for me because I was born with CP

Devon:

What do you consider some of the most important things in your life?

George:

My mother and my sister.

Devon:

Yeah. Your family is very important to you. That's great. What about your friends?

George:

Yeah, and all my friends . I made them good friends from Special Olympics, from The Summit- Ya.

Devon:

Now you have friends then who are self- advocates? Do you have friends that are not self advocates? Yeah. You do? That's great.

Nathalie:

And what do you do with them ? Do you hang out with them?

George:

Sometimes?

Devon:

And do you find any differences between being friends with somebody with a diversability and somebody who doesn't or are all your friends the same?

George:

I think they are all the same

Devon:

I agree. Okay . I mentioned before, George and I have been friends for a long time. It's really cool to be able to get to know somebody over so many years and kind of , you know, George and I are actually almost exactly the same age. So George is nearly exactly a whole year older than me, Old Man.

Nathalie:

Are we all March Babies. Were you born in March? Yeah, we are.

George:

You are March 22nd.

Nathalie:

You've got such a good memory.

George:

And he's March 27th

Devon:

Good memory.

Nathalie:

We're all scary aries. Yeah .

Devon:

So yeah, it's great to have George as my friend around even though he likes to bug me about being old.

Nathalie:

And I'm much younger than you two, by so much.

Devon:

Nathalie, when was the most scared you we re in your whole life?

Nathalie:

You know , in Australia we have really wild waves and before we can really walk, we're in the ocean and the amount of times I was dumped by massive waves and I thought I was going to die. It was like all summer, every single year for 34 years. Oops. That means I'm older than you guys.

Devon:

She let the cat out of the bag.

Nathalie:

But you think like, you think you're going to die in those , like you're under the water and you don't know which is often, which way's down and sand's in your mouth.

Devon:

Yeah, that'd be pretty scary.

Nathalie:

Yeah. But then we just go back in again. Never scared of sharks. Just getting our head knocked off with the w aves.

Devon:

I remember being pretty scared of the sharks and the jellyfish while I was there. The waves kind of kept out of my mind. But they are probably a lot more dangerous than the sharks and were more likely to be dangerous.

Nathalie:

Yeah. Cause they're constant. Yeah.

Devon:

What about you George? Anytime that you were really scared?

George:

Well, I was scared having my surgery done on my legs.

Nathalie:

How long ago was that?

George:

That was when I was a teenager.

Devon:

That would be pretty scary. But then you came out better improved? Yep . That's awesome.

Nathalie:

And what about you Dev ?

Devon:

Well something I'll have to disclose is that I have a fear of heights. So I was on a flight back from Vancouver, I believe, and we had an aborted landing. I was a teenager also, and I didn't know what was happening and I thought we were going to crash and die. So I remember that really freaking me out and I haven't liked flying since. No . Yeah,

Nathalie:

I don't like flying and I've never had that happen. Would your life be better or worse if you didn't have a disability?

George:

Maybe much better yeah.

Nathalie:

And how's that? Why would it be better? What would be better about your life? So right now you play lots of sports and you have lots of friends and you live with your mom and you see a lot of your sister. Is there something that would be added to that that would be better if you didn't have a disability?

George:

I am not sure about that questions

Nathalie:

So do you think you're pretty happy?

George:

Yeah. pretty much happy, yeah.

Nathalie:

And do you think that that's really what all people want is to be happy? Yeah. And maybe our circumstances were a little bit different, we wouldn't necessarily be happier? Yeah.

Devon:

Nathalie and I have really enjoyed chatting with you.

Nathalie:

Yeah. Thanks for being here. Yeah. You're a bit of a rock star.

Devon:

Yeah. Very cool.

Speaker 5:

What are we doing here today? Well we had previously recorded our podcast with George and we thought we'd add some more elements to it and we want some time just for you and I to talk.

Nathalie:

Yeah. Get a little relaxed on the mic.

Devon:

Yeah. C ause we had our self-advocate come and talk with us and then it's good for us to chat about some things that matter to our diversabilities. Y eah. Apparently I have relationship disabilities as well.

Nathalie:

Who told you that?

Devon:

My non girlfriend. My absent girlfriend.

Nathalie:

So what you're saying is hypothetically your hypothetical girlfriend?

Devon:

Yes. Right, exactly. My future ex wife. Ah, I can't,

Nathalie:

don't listen to her. Okay. She knows nothing.

Devon:

Fair enough. Yeah. I hate that nonexistent person.

Nathalie:

Exactly. What would she know? She's not e xisted. Yeah, exactly.

Devon:

So we are actually, yeah. I think today it would be a good thing for us to chat about that we've talked a little bit about recently more casually was our definitions of friendship and what our friendship is like in our life. And we did touch on that in a previous podcast with Emma and we did hold our first inaugural Art Gala last night. And we may want to just touch base on that and see, how the event went and how it was different from previous events that we've held in and why we created something so diverse in itself. Yeah, absolutely.

Nathalie:

So friendship, should we start there?

Devon:

Let's talk about friendship.

Nathalie:

Okay. So, and we want to talk about that because we have some differences in how we relate to people and who we see as friends and how we define friendship and how we even use the word.

Devon:

Absolutely. you know, I think when we were talking with Emma last time, we were saying about how we are close with her and that we consider her friends, but we may not consider everybody, or the other self advocates says as friends. But actually we had lunch with everybody today and I realized that I do consider them friends even though I might not be extremely close. I don't know them that well, but I still consider them friends of mine. and I care about them.

Nathalie:

So why are they or how do you define your friendships? So why are you using that word friend to describe those relationships?

Devon:

It's not a connection. It's a mutual caring and enjoyment of the company, of the other, other individuals. So when we see each other and we're both excited to see each other and we hug and your mood improves immediately when you're around that person. I think that is part of the definition of friendship to me , and it gives me energy and makes me feel happy. But it has to be kind of a two way reception in that regard. So you both feel that. I think if it's one way then it's not a true friendship.

Nathalie:

So what you're really talking about is the emotional connection. You're not really even talking about things that you like to do together or places you'd like to go. You're talking about how you feel about them.

Devon:

Exactly. Like I said, some of the individuals, self advocates, I don't do a lot of activities with them, but when I do see them, they make me feel great and I feel like I'm friends with them and it's not due to the amount of time we spend together, the things that we do, saying that there are friends that I have who I enjoy being around because they are always active, they always want to try something new. They like doing things. So there's almost different types of friendships as well.

Nathalie:

Okay. So for me, I don't call very many people friends and as an introvert. Yeah , that's quite common for an introverted person. Yeah . And for me, for someone to be called a friend, I need to have some or a lot of level of trust. So it's not about where I go out or where I meet them or the activities they do. It's about whether I feel I can trust them with me. So if I was to have something going on that was hard or challenging, could they be trusted to care? Could they be trusted to be there? And I'm wondering if it's a different or a further level of depth than what you're describing. And perhaps that comes from an an introvert perspective. And when I think about people with diverse abilities and I think who are my friends , and we always come back to Emma because we do have a particular agreed friendship, the three of us and we're quite similar and it's something we really feel. And so how is that different other friendships? So, you know, Emma will look me in the eye and say, how are you and mean it. Right. You know, and I feel that she means it and I trust her with who I am. And so for me, friendships are about that. Whereas others , yeah, the fun and yes, I care about them but I don't call them my friends because I don't feel that level of trust.

Devon:

That's interesting. I think along with that it's the way t hat we form friendships also, but kind of along with what you're saying is the mutual empathy. So caring about how the other person is feeling or trying to understand where they are i n their day, their week, their month or year, their life you know and caring about the quality of their mood and emotion and you know, I think that's when when somebody makes that connection with me. That's really important and really significant. Nathalie, who is somebody that you wo uld c onsider an acquaintance but a very strong acquaintance but not a friend? Do you have individuals that you are like borderline friends and what differentiates it between an acquaintance and a friendship?

Nathalie:

I would say I have a lot of people at that level and I'm guessing they'd be people you'd call friends. Right So they're people who I like to go to the Friday night market with. There are people who I may go for coffee with. They're people who we have common like workplace or you know, other activities that we do and, and we like each other and it's fun. But I wouldn't write an essay on our friendship because there's yet been... No, maybe it's like the, the emotion. I don't have the love for them yet and I don't have the safety and probably introvert again, I keep coming back to feeling safe, feeling safe and trusting. I don't yet trust the nature and the depth of what we've got going on yet. And some of those, I feel like that group, you know, some people will become closer and depending on where our lives go or maybe what, what our values are like, what matters. Some people we'll become closer friends and some people will fade off and do other things and all of that's good.

Devon:

That's true. That's true. And I think there's value in acquaintance as well. That actually might be a self- preserving tactic that you are unaware of is that you keep people not at a distance but not as close as you do some others and I don't know where I'm going with this, you know what I mean?

Nathalie:

Yeah, that the self protective mechanism is quite valid and when I only have energy for a certain amount of people and yet I required depth, there's only room for a small group. And I know that sometimes people want more from me, but if I'm not ready to go there, it's not their fault. It's just I haven't gotten that room to go there yet. Hmm . Interesting.

Devon:

Yeah. Yeah. I can't reverb that back unfortunately.

Nathalie:

I think I have hurt people in the past who've wanted to get close to me. Right. Because they have made moves and I've, I've liked them and I've wanted to hang out, but actually they made me tired when I had conversations with them or right. And I couldn't get that emotional connection rich enough to actually be interested enough to converse at that level and t o share that level.

Devon:

And as an introvert, you probably are very self aware of your energy drain and how you come out of interactions with people physically. so when you come out of an interaction or spending time with somebody that you're a strong acquaintance or a friend and you don't feel drained and you feel more enriched and you feel more energy from it, then that's a good indicator for you. Yeah. Of , of who might be somebody who's a friend to you.

Nathalie:

Yeah, that's exactly right. And even just talking about it, I can feel my voice come up. You know , is , yeah. When, when people are a natural fit for me in terms of connection, I'm energized to the point of being able to stay up all night. Right. And be energized from connecting to this one person or these two people. And it's completely the opposite end of the spectrum.

Devon:

That's very cool. I consider myself to be an ambivert in that I have very introverted times and I can be quite drained from large group interactions with people who are not quaintness or friends, where I do need to interact quite a lot. And that does drain me quite a lot. But when I'm with large groups of people that I know and that are friends or acquaintances, that gives me a lot of energy and I do enjoy that. I think that's the extroverted side of it. So but it's a two way street with me and it's very situational

Nathalie:

and you seem to make friends quite easily. How, how is that possible? Tell me about that. Because I don't feel like it's a natural thing for me to do. And once again, maybe it's just my guardedness yeah. How is it so easy for you?

Devon:

Thank you for asking. I would say that one thing that I've kind of learned and I'm quite cognizant of it as well and how I make connection easily with, I find that I can, with anybody, you know, it doesn't matter age or you know, demographic or, you know , anything in that regard. I think even like , you know, in Uganda I would people who were completely outside of my culture and I was able to make connections with people very quickly and it's all based around for me, something that I touched on earlier, a little bit about being empathetic and being genuinely interested to hear about somebody else and that you're an engaged listener with them. And when I speak with people and show that I care and just want to talk to them and I'm showing that I have energy to hear what they're saying. And I think there's, it's very common when people are a bit more self absorbed and they do like to talk about themselves. And, and that's not something that again, they're probably doing willingly or they're doing purposefully. But I think, you know, being a listener has really helped me connect with a lot of people. hence why I'm in politics. It's probably very valuable in that regard too . And I don't take it for granted and I try to have no ego around that. I find I'm very fortunate considering I used to have very severe social anxiety. So to be able to become a person that's not socially anxious and actually the quite the opposite is, has been profound and very incredible.

Nathalie:

And you are quite interested in people.

Devon:

I am, I love diversity of personality and, and being in general. Yeah . I find it, I find it interesting. Absolutely. Yeah. I think a lot of it's b red from the time that I see people who were also socially anxious or have people that I work with, especially on the spectrum, who have difficulty with socialization and wanting them to feel like they're engaged a s somebody who's engaged in i nterested in them. And I did a lot of that when I was very highly socially anxious. I was actually quite confident in talking to other people who a re socially anxious. So that gained, I gained skills there in enlisting and knowing how to make somebody feel better. And o nce you know that they're there, s omebody i s interested in them and wants to hear what they h ave to say. And then that as I lost my social anxiety, that transferred then t o more generally.

Nathalie:

So when we're talking about people with diverse abilities and we can only come with our own personality and our own way of making friends and connecting, but we need to be super cognizant of where they're at too . Absolutely. And , it's no different from anybody else if they calling us a friend. you know, I see people say, oh no, I'm not your friend. And they can be really hurt by that. Right But if t hey're super extroverted and they really do see us as a friend and then that's completely valid coming from their point of view.

Devon:

So what are your thoughts about one sided friendship then? Oh, that's a difficult one.

Nathalie:

It can be very painful, right? Because you really want something that you can't get. And I, as I've said, I think I've hurt a lot of people who've wanted to be my friend and I haven't wanted to reciprocate - nothing wrong with them. It just didn't work that way for me. And there was nothing I could do. I couldn't bring myself to the table when I wasn't there to bring.

Devon:

And I don't think there's any fault to anybody to say no or not to engage in a friendship with somebody who they don't feel like they wandered, could be friends with them because if you're faking it or you're forcing it, that's actually going to be a recipe for disaster in the future of that friendship and like it's not going to work out well.

Nathalie:

So telling the truth is important particularly. But yeah, particularly with people with diversabilities who may be thinking in a more concrete manner, if they are trying to move the friendship forward to, you know, hey, let's go for coffee. Hey, let's go to the bar and have a drink or whatever it is that they're doing to move the friendship forward and we don't I want it - to be direct in a gentle way rather than say yes, yes, yes, but never make it happen. Right. Being flaky about it. Yup . Cause I've certainly done that. I've gone, yeah, sure. I'd love to go for a beer with you and actually was lying.

Devon:

Right? Yeah. I think the, what we were just talking about too is that we're, I mean, personally I'm not very direct about saying to somebody, no, I don't want to hang out with you or I typically will if I want to change somebody's behavior or I d unno, not, not c hange t heir behavior but, or get something across to them, but more subconsciously, I typically will use some kind of conditioning tactic. So, you know, making it obvious that I'm not interested in hanging out, but not saying it directly.

Nathalie:

And is that e ffective?

Devon:

Well is it passive aggressive? I don't know.

Nathalie:

Well is it, and is it effective for people? Is it effective for people who think very concretely and very black and white? And if you're talking about someone on the spectrum, it's even harder. They're not going to pick up on your social cues. Right? and I'm even less obvious than you are.

Devon:

And that's a good point. And I've had mixed results in that. And I think a good example of that, and this is a generalization, but it's a generalization stereotype kind of taken from my own experiences that a lot of our self advocates and people with diverse abilities, their etiquette regarding frequency of phone calls. Oh yeah. It can be, you know, they have difficulty with that. And I get repeated calls sometimes five times a day

Nathalie:

And they get mad at each other for doing that. That's one of the most frustrating things for them as people that Facebook them constantly.

Devon:

Right? Yeah . So some people I've, you know, I will answer once a week if they're calling me every day. If I don't particularly need or want to talk to them, then I will stop picking up. And some people have stopped. and have you know, really tapered back on their amount of phone calls or texts and that sort of thing. Some people just don't pick up on the, those cues of you know, if somebody didn't return my texts after seven, eight of them, I'm guessing they're not too interested in talking with me. So in those cases it would be smart for us to find a way to be kindly direct. I think that's, and it's really not an easy thing to do. and you know, speaking to anybody I think even regardless of diversability or not, I mean we all have diversabilities but self advocates that it's going to be difficult to hear on from anybody really. If were to, if you were to say that to anybody in your life that all please, you know, I think the way to come across about it would be to say you know, I'm really busy, I've got a lot of things on my plate right now and do you mind just kind of not calling as often.

Nathalie:

It's a bit like breaking up with someone you've been dating? Yeah . Not Easy because, and it may be , what do you think about that as a comparison and that, you know, dating compared to dating for friendship. Is kind of nearly a similar model in that you, you know, hey, let's go for coffee or let's do this or let's do that. And after six times of hanging out, sort of as dating friendship, that kind of concept, do you go, hmm not really working for me.

Devon:

I think so and being an acquaintance is almost like dating and then when you become friends, you're together and then when your very close friends or best friends a nd you're married, it's kind of in that regard. And that can end. Yeah, marriages can end, friendships can end, but I think t he dating and the acquaintance time is almost like a trial period, except that most people don't continue to date ongoing and without, you know, f or a n infinite time as opposed to, u m, typically you can have an acquaintance for life.

Nathalie:

Yeah, good point. So we're kind of like nearly working through here, a model of friendship acquaintance behaviour that, that's kind of interesting. Yeah. It can work for any of us. So in the same way of sort of romantic or sexual dating, we're looking at friendship dating and yeah it stops. You have a period of time where you're testing out where this thing is going to go and you're going to know after x amount of dates, if this friendship's gonna be something that's gonna move to the next level, like move to close friends. And then, and obviously it's not about the number of friendship dates or even a timeframe. Like sometimes someone can walk in the door and you go, there's my best friend and you know.

Devon:

So I think I was just thinking about that too. Dating, and you're in that trial period, there's a high frequency of getting together and connecting as opposed to, or even say your then girlfriend and boyfriend and girlfriend and boyfriend, whatever that you would then still, it's important to see that person on a high frequency rate . Whereas with friends, I feel like sometimes I see my friends once every three months and we're just as close every time that we meet. Up and it's not like there's any love lost, but with dating there would be.

Nathalie:

You've been listening to diverse abilities matters with Nathalie Callender

Devon:

and Devon Bruce

Nathalie:

and if you want to chat with us, send us an email. [email protected] and join us next time we'll have another illustrious guest who knows what we'll be talking about them.

Devon:

Absolutely. Thank you everybody. Bye.