Blogmas 8: The Importance of Life Experience

08 December 2015

Today I want to take a semi-serious topic, so no travel/lifestyle/fashion, I want to talk about Life Experience.

I'm 21 years old. Since leaving school at aged 18, I have been in two colleges and one Modern Apprenticeship. I've had one proper job, one almost proper job and one volunteering job. I've been on Job Seekers Allowance twice and I've also dealt with Anxiety, Depression and emotional manipulation (but I won't delve too much into that last one.) and have seen a life coach.

I feel like talking about life experience isn't widely enough done, and that every once in a while, we should take a look back at who we were 1, 2, 3 etc years ago and who we are now. I, for one, am a completely different person, and I'm glad of that.

When I left school, I didn't have a place at college or university. I was struggling to get out of an undiagnosed depression and had no self confidence at all. I started hating myself, who I am and how I was just going to fail at everything. I ended up (reluctantly) on Job Seekers. Luckily, my advisor was really lovely, she listened to me and took everything I said seriously. She was the one who looked at my (fairly average) grades at school and told me about a new college opportunity with my local council. It was an Activity Tourism course lasting for 18 weeks.  I like tourism, and I like learning, I also really wanted to get off Job Seekers so I took it, and was accepted.

I did have a lot of fun on the course. I pushed myself to Abseil (although I cried a lot from fear) and I met some new, interesting people. I even had a boyfriend who I was with for over a year. Things were starting to look up.

Then the course ended, and we were all left in the dark about what was happening. I now had skills in First Aid, Manual Handling and Health and Safety at work, but what was I meant to do with them?

We were thrown into a voluntary job with the British Heart Foundation Furniture and Electrical. Myself, and two others, were on the shop floor. I actually had great fun with this, and was there for 6 months (longer than the people I started with, because they all got jobs.) I started to learn how to operate the till, take calls, set up displays, clean, mark prices, train new volunteers... Lots of retail skills to add to my growing collection. It was at this point that I was to be introduced to my life coach, Lorraine.

Lorraine was extremely lovely. She listened to what I had to say, all my anxieties and worries, and she tried to help me focus on what I could do as a career. I had been juggling with a few ideas and settled on teaching. From there, my employment coordinator nudged me into applying for a Modern Apprenticeship in Children's Care, Learning and Development.

I applied, got my interview, got the job, got through induction, said goodbye to my life coach and now I was a part of 60 children's educational experience.

I struggled. This was not the right thing for me, but I persevered. I got through each day, and I tried, each day I felt like I was losing more and more energy by trying to stay happy and alert outwardly, while inside I was on total panic mode.

After a few months, alarm bells started ringing with my employers. My assessors had brought up that I was struggling and was not where I should be, I was still taking a safe, back seat on things. I was back with my life coach again to try and give me some support but it didn't work, and I'd broken up with my boyfriend. Lorraine told me that the best thing to do would be to leave on my own terms, which I agreed to. Everyone accepted that this was the best decision for me to make, and I was allowed to continue to see Lorraine to help me transition to a new venture. At least I had a few more certificates to my name: Emergency First Aid and Food Hygiene.

This was April 2014. I was back on Job Seekers allowance.

I was lucky again, the woman taking my details happened to be an old neighbour of mine, so while I felt really uneasy at being back in that building, I felt a bit more relaxed knowing that she knew who I was, who my parents were and that everything I was saying was the truth. My advisor was also really lovely, I think I've been really lucky with how things have panned out for me in the Job Centre department, I've heard a lot of stories of people getting horrible advisors but I just haven't seen that happen. They are people too, with stressful jobs.

Throughout this, I was still seeing Lorraine, and the job centre, Lorraine and my past employers were all in the loop with what was going on with me. Lorraine had been noticing a trend in me talking about how I wanted to travel more, and all my possible futures surrounded around going around the world. She suggested I apply for Travel and Tourism college courses. So I did.

I also found a job, with help from my advisor, at a local Fish & Chip Shop. I said bye-bye to the Job Centre, and hello to the world of work.  At this point I'd had all my college interviews, several unconditionals and I was on the waiting list for my No1 college. My colleagues at the chippy were also really lovely, I'd never felt so supported anywhere before. Things were looking up.

I got a second job in Aberdeen just in case I was going to college there. I'd travel 2.5 hours by train on the days I wasn't in my Chippy job. It was stressful, it was exhausting but I did it until it all became too much and I had to leave.

In August 2014, I was sitting in the car on the way to Blackpool with my mum and my friend Jennifer. We were going away to get me away from my now stressful life. I had not heard back from my No1 College and so it was looking likely that I was going to have to move to Aberdeen, where I had one friend. I was in the midst of drama and on the verge of tears at trying to think of where I could get money for my flat that I'd agreed to when I got en email from my No1 college asking if I was still interested. Of course I was! I zapped an email back straight away and was given my induction date.

I was so excited.

I was no longer with my life coach, but I was in a comfortable place. I loved my college course, I'd met new friends who I'm still close to (of course, because I'm still here) and my lecturers have all been wonderful, helpful and understanding.

In January 2015, we became short staffed and I was now at College 4 days a week and work 3 days a week. I was run down, I had no time to myself but I still wanted to get everything done to the best of my ability. I would wake up every day in pain, my self confidence had taken a nose dive again, I was stressed and my hands had started to flake. I was really ill. This lasted at it's worst, for 3 weeks. However the stress, the self confidence, the flaking hands, it all lasted for months. I was so beaten down, that my memory started to go. I'm still feeling the impact of this 12 months later, where I forget my words in the middle of a sentence 8 times out of 10, I struggle with descriptions of actions I'd taken moments before, I have to write down almost everything I have to do, or that I've done.

In April 2015, it was time to get my graded unit handed in. I was struggling to find the time to get it done. I stayed up all night trying desperately to write it up and when Monday rolled around... It still wasn't complete. I had a breakdown infront of my guidance lecturer apologising for not finishing it on time. My tears and panic lead to me having a panic attack in front of her and several other lecturers who all tried to calm me down. I ended up getting a C in the unit, I was two marks away from getting a B.

A year after I started my job in the chippy, I left on good terms because I was going into my second year at college, which was going to be a lot more stressful than the first. I left on good terms, and my boss knew that this was the right decision, again. She'd seen me work as hard as I could, she saw the stress I'd been under and she'd even taken me aside on a number of occasions to ask if I was okay.

I've been feeling a lot more confident now, more than ever before. I have supportive friends, family and this new and excited blogging network through #GirlGang. I've even been on my first ever long haul trip to Singapore! That I never dreamed would happen!

It truely feels as though everything that I've been through has given me the experience I never knew I needed to get me to where I am now. I still battle with Anxiety, that is going to be a hard one to shake, but I'll get there one day.

I made this post to highlight that although things seem bleak, they do get better and before you know it, you'll be exactly where you're supposed to be. You just have to persevere and take the opportunities given to you, because they'll lead you to new and incredible places that you didn't think you'd ever be.

I urge you all to take a look at your life experience, how far have you come on your journey so far? How have you changed in the past few years? Where do you see yourself going?

Let me know, because I'd really love to read your responses :)

Thanks for reading this, I hope it's helped to shape your perspective on life a little bit.


Remember, I have a giveaway running until 15 December.
Here's the link to the post if you are interested >> ( here ) <<
Two prizes up for grabs; from Lush, Metal Panda and Bomb Cosmetics.


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