A century is about events. A decade is about people.George Friedman
Hi everybody, it’s been a long while but I’m back for my first blog of the year. (Apologies for the delay). 2020 has finally arrived. Doesn’t time, and life in general fly by?
So as we enter a new decade, the 2nd of the 21st century, I wanted to look back and reflect on the 10 years that have preceded us. In particular just how much life has changed. For good and for bad.
If I rewind to 2010, when I was the tender age of 10, I was in my penultimate year of primary school and life seemed to be pretty great. Like any kid I had my difficult times where I fell out with friends or rebelled against the very concept of school, however up until I left a year later in 2011, education was overall a rewarding experience. Being a part of sports teams, learning new things, messing around with my mates, going on school trips and all the other things kids often do at that age were usually fun. Instances of worry/concern were few and far between. It’s incredible to think just how much circumstances can change in a matter of years, months and even days. We can never be sure what life holds for us!
Moving forward to the September of 2011, where my journey (excuse the cliche) at high school began, what I will say is the transition of going from a small primary to a relatively big high school was extremely challenging. And that’s putting it lightly!
While my primary school was located within close proximity to my house, I grew to know most of the people, I liked many of the teachers and the expectations were obviously much lower, high school altered my life in so many ways. Although I appreciate I came to the decision of choosing to attend a certain school, it was certainly a shock to the system having to get up at 6:30am, having to travel for 40 minutes on the bus to and from and school, not to mention becoming accustomed to a completely alien environment with new classmates, new teachers, different rules and different surroundings.
As I got older, progressing from Year 7 to my departure from Year 11 in May 2016, whereby naturally the expectations of coursework, exams, deadlines and fitting in with your peers loom large, I’m not afraid to say that I found it all very hard to deal with. Despite at the time not recognising it was a real issue that needed genuine support, my high school experience was blighted by constant anxiety, perfectionism, low self-confidence, lapses of concentration and towards its conclusion, extreme withdrawal from friends. Even at lunch time, when you would see everybody hanging around with their mates, joking around doing whatever, I would occupy most of my breaks in the library or IT suites to isolate myself. As a defence mechanism. To protect myself from possible embarrassment or ridicule. I’d be lying if I said I had no enjoyable periods through secondary school, for example certain lessons or teachers, but I’d like it to have been significantly better. Without question!
Progressing onto sixth form in the September of 2016, opting to study Finance, Economics and Statistics (big mistakes I stress), it wasn’t long before my long-standing issues came erupting to the surface and to people’s attention. And most importantly my Mum’s. If you’ve followed many of my previous posts, you’ll probably know that my college experience didn’t last too long at all, predominantly because my mental health hit rock bottom.
Although in the moment it seemed like the most destructive and stupid decision I’d ever made, reflecting now has proved to me just how true the old adage ‘everything happens for a reason’ is. Not until I left the ‘pit of despair’ at the back end of that year did I distinguish the difference between what I wanted and what I NEEDED. While every fibre of my being was desperate to stay in college, work through my issues and achieve the results I required to move onto university, it’s clear that the timing was not right. Through leaving education behind me for a few years and prioritising my health, it not only allowed me to become more aware of who I am as a person, but also rediscover a sense of passion and belonging that had disappeared for such a long time. Much of what I have to thank for that is campaigning, in particular the countless number of incredible people I’ve met and friendships I’ve established along the way!
It may not have been until early 2018 that I discovered the sheer enjoyment that comes from campaigning, but realistically my previous negative experiences were what allowed me to stumble across something where I could transform the lowest of lows into the highest of highs. Like anybody, especially those with a mental illness, the challenges I face on a daily basis are incredibly difficult to handle, nevertheless I’m now in a much better place to tackle them head on. Volunteering has enabled to help others on a scale I never thought possible- and has supported my own personal development too. Who’d have thought just a few years earlier that’d I feel comfortable sharing my story to a group of strangers?!
As I sit here now looking to the next decade ahead, my mind is occupied by excitement and apprehension in equal measure. While life for me personally has altered unfathomably over the last 10 years, it also should be noted just how much YOUR life (probably) and the world around us has changed too. Whether that change was largely good or bad, it’s important that we realise that the fight within us is definitely much stronger than we think. Self-doubt is a demon and I for one, will be working hard to beat it. However long it takes. It’s mind-boggling that I could be starting university in the latter part of 2020!
P.S. Here’s to the 2020’s being the best and most fruitful decade of our lives!
Thanks for reading,
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