I FEEL SO LOST

It’s never too late to start over. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today. Don’t stay stuck. Do better.

“I’m 22, I have just finished University and I can’t find a job.” This is a very real reality for many of us leaving University. We all hope that we will fall in to our dream job, at least it was set in my head that getting a University Degree would be the elusive happiness that we all crave but I soon come to realise that its not as easy as that for many of us, especially in this very competitive world that we now live in.

I have felt a sense of embarrassment to come from a life of non stop education to not knowing what to do with my days other than apply and apply for jobs, I’m asked ‘What are you doing now?’ ‘Have you got a job yet?’ ‘What have you been doing with yourself?’ These questions so soon after graduating make me wonder, ‘Am I supposed to already have my dream job?’ and ‘Does not having that job I studied for three years for make me a failure?’ But we have to remember as young adults that some people are lucky and some people are not, some people have to work harder and some people don’t, that is just life.

Either way, I sit and think after being non stop for all of my life ‘What now?’ job prospects seem impossible, my friends are no longer around because we have all gone our separate ways after graduating and I do not know what to do with myself, I’m lost and lonely. I have come to think that this is a time of reflection, a time to realise what you have achieved and to remember the years that you have ahead of you, I think that our generation has become so caught up with what everybody else around us are doing that we begin to doubt ourselves.

Everything about my life has been assumed and I feel I have gone along for the ride, although I finished my degree and it is one of the best things I have ever done and achieved, I also wonder ‘Do people now assume for me to have this incredible Fashion job?’ Little do people see the debt that has amounted up over the years by just attending University, do I now have to get a job to pay off that debt while getting into more debt by trying to get those things in life that people assume that you should have. I am at a place in my life where I want more than that, I want to wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and excitement. We are so riddled in self doubt now that we believe that we all have to live in the same way but things work out differently for us all and you are allowed to feel lost because it can be the turning point in your life.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau

So here are some tips to remember when you feel lost and lonely:

  • You have more control than you think:

Feeling lost or lonely can get you into negative mode but you are in control, there are things that you can do that can help and make you feel like you have purpose. Only you can choose how to react when things don’t go to ‘plan.’

  • Don’t regret:

Self pity can be the start of a spiralling mess, its all to easy to look back on past events and regret what we did or didn’t do however this does nothing but feed the negativity that you are feeling, of course its okay to know you would have done things differently if you could but know this isn’t possible and the sooner you are able to accept this, the sooner you will be able to look to the future with fresh eyes.

  • Embrace the feeling:

Their comes a sense of relief when you are no longer searching for approval from others, it may feel like loneliness but try enjoying the fact that you do not need everyone to accept and support your decisions. Embrace the new found freedom!

  • Accept change:

Life is about growing and changing and how we react and learn from that change, this is what makes us the person that we are to become. Stop looking back to the ‘Good times’ it is okay that you are not who you used to be, embrace the now.

  • Keep striving to achieve your dreams:

So you feel isolated, we all come to a point in our lives where things don’t seem to be going as ‘planned’ but drop that defeatist attitude and remember that you are worth more than just getting by for the sake of it, this may be hard to follow when you have obligations but your happiness is just as important.

“Living is the rarest thing in the world, most people exist” Oscar Wilde

  • Let loneliness become a learning curve:

The amount of people you are with doesn’t determine the scale of loneliness, when you are surrounded by all of these people, it can be lonelier than when you’re by yourself. Let this be a time to discover you, it’s in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching. Learn to love being alone and become settled in your own company.

  • Keep a diary:

This may seem like an odd tip but I have kept a diary since I was child and I love to look back at times that I once felt that I wouldn’t overcome and realising how things have changed and improved. By keeping a diary when you’re feeling lost and lonely, this will allow you to look back in the future to see how you viewed things at the time and how far you have come since then.

 

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SOCIAL SERVICES

Social Services get a lot of stick and for the majority of the time I really don’t agree with it, they are there to be the parent that some children need, the parent that I once needed to say ‘This environment is not a safe place and these children need to be taken out of it’ It may seem that they are the ‘bad guys’ but they serve a purpose, a purpose that many children need to have a chance of a healthy and happy life.

Now all of this is all well and good but what about when all of that is done, you’re finally an adult and can make decisions for yourself, then what?

Not that long ago I found out that once you turn 21 social services completely stop working with you unless you decide to go onto higher education (University) in this case they then work with you until you’re 25 (If you stay in education of course) This wasn’t a problem for me as it was something I planned to do anyway so I never really thought twice about it however now that I have come to the end of my education I have come face to face with the reality that they will no longer be a part of my life. As someone who has relied on having them there I would have expected some sort of work to have happened to make sure I would be okay without them, what I have learnt has made me question parts of Social Services and here is why:

As a vulnerable young person who has left the care system, there are so many different situations you can be in, good, bad and ugly so to think if you are not able to get into University or you don’t want to go into University that you will lose that support it can be quite daunting, they told you they would help and protect you but then when you need them as a young person living alone with no family help, they are no longer there. Clearly they understand that this is our reality ‘We know that young people leaving care frequently feel isolated, lonely and lacking the safety net of someone to talk to and to advise them in a crisis.’ As found here so why are we left in this position? Also if you are in or were in the care system and are under 21 or are in higher education in Wales then also check the above website out to see what you are entitled too.

I understand that strings need to be detached at some point, there are so many young people who also need that help but if things are tied up the way they have been with me then things need to be looked at and changed. Yes, I have lived alone for 6 years and am now 22 years old but that doesn’t make me an expert and it certainly does not make me any less scared of any future dilemmas which I am sure many young people agree with.

I have recently finished University with little help since doing so, however I have been informed that my case with them has now been closed, so quickly and without any encouragement from them. I believe that they have a responsibility to ween you off, slowly giving you less and less help until you are comfortable that you feel 100% responsible for yourself.

There are so many sides to social services even some of which I don’t even know about but what I do know about I have always fully supported, so it has come as a shock to me to have come to this point and to feel let down by them.

This needs to be changed and I hope to start the change here, the more that young people express their concerns, the more local authorities will have to start to listen to us and maybe one day things will be different for future care leavers.

I have slowly come to terms with this news however I am upset for the more vulnerable young people out there who may feel completely scared and alone during this time, I want to tell you that you are not alone and there and many places to turn to for advice starting with me, if you just want a friendly chat with someone who may be able to understand how you are feeling then feel free to E-mail me (Details on my About Me page)

If you are looking for help or advice concerning things like:

  • money worries
  • housing issues
  • how the care system works
  • your rights in care and leaving care
  • your education and plans for the future
  • your health and wellbeing
  • getting the things you are entitled to
  • contact with your siblings and family members
  • finding national and local services that can help you

Contact: The Who Cares Trust on their Care Advice Line on 020 7017 8901 between 10.30am and 3pm, Monday to Friday (Charges apply however you can ask to be called back) or E-mail advice@thewhocarestrust.org.uk, Check out this website for more information.

I would like to finish by saying that although you may feel scared and alone, think about everything that you have overcome and use that to tell yourself that you are strong enough to face anything that may come your way, ups and downs are a part of life and if you remain positive and work hard, there is no reason as to why your past should dictate your future.

FOSTER CARE

I grew up in foster care, spending most of my teenage life there, I struggled. Your teenage years are already extremely hard as it is but when you live somewhere that isn’t home it becomes twice as hard.

Whilst growing up I was scared to make mistakes in case my foster carers decided they didn’t want me anymore, this truly was a real fear for me. I felt that I was never a part of the family so I couldn’t make the same mistakes that their own children would make. I was lucky enough to be with my brother so the thought of being split up in different homes made growing up really hard, being a teenager is about making mistakes and learning from them but I don’t feel I really got that opportunity because I was so caught up with being what people wanted me to be and creating an unrealistic expectation for myself.

With statistics like ‘Children who spend time in the care system are less likely than other children to achieve academic success or benefit from stable relationships.’ and.. ‘They are more likely to have problems with crime, drugs and mental health than their peers.’ It is easy to see why it feels like the world is against you because of a choice that you couldn’t make for yourself, so for me ‘experimenting’ like my friends were was terrifying for me: What if I enjoy it? What if I am clinically depressed? What if I don’t want to go to University? Do these questions make me just another statistic? For a teenager these are questions that you shouldn’t feel compelled to ask yourself, mistakes and illness makes you human, not a result of the care system.

Being in foster care can feel never ending. Meetings in the middle of the school day: teachers, parents and social workers gathering around and talking about you like you’re not in the room and making you feel like you don’t have a voice, I sometimes felt like I was screaming inside of my own head to be like my friends, I felt like I would never be ‘normal’ and for me this was all I ever really wanted, I didn’t want to be known as the girl in care or the girl with alcoholic parents.
I came to a point where I was feeling extremely depressed and decided that I could no longer be in that situation and made the choice at 16 to leave and move into supported lodgings: Supported lodgings is a household that take young people in and give them a place to stay but you have to supply your own food etc so its ultimately like a stepping stone to living alone. I didn’t live there for long though, it was more like a pit stop until there was space in a hostel. Moving in to a hostel was the best decision for me, I didn’t want to be a part of somebody else’s household anymore, I didn’t want to feel like I was somebody’s job.

I eventually moved into the hostel, there were other young people living there too which made the experience a bit more bearable, I ended up being there for a year while waiting for my own home. Whilst in the hostel the feelings of loneliness would become unbearable because no family or friends where aloud inside, looking back now it was a price worth paying because I’ve now been in my own home for almost five years and it’s the most happiest and content I have ever been.

During all of this I decided to carry on with my education, I had recently finished school and it gave me some normality to my life. I soon moved into my own home, finished college and I have now recently graduated from University, that in itself being an achievement for someone who has been in the care system as statistics say only 6% of care leavers go into higher education compared to 38% of young people, I have left with an with an Upper Second Class Honours degree and I feel like I have my whole life ahead of me to become successful.

The point in this is that, bad times won’t last forever and you can overcome anything. There are so many young people in the care system and unfortunately a lot of them end up on a path they feel they can’t come back from because when you’re in that moment it does feel that nothing will ever be okay but as someone who has been there, it can. So if you’re in care, just remember you are human and your experiences can make for two different lives and I promise you that choosing the right path is the best path, that doesn’t mean that everything is always great because its not but if you can overcome statistics, you can overcome anything.

Now I’m just another young person living alone and trying to become the best version of myself I can be and to finally be at a place of ‘normality’ is a massive achievement for me, its something I thought I would never have. Social services have now stopped working with me, honestly it does bring a little fear as ultimately they have been the parents I didn’t have, making choices for me that I was to young to make but I’m ready to let that part of my life go and you will get to that point too even if it doesn’t feel like it now. These have been the best years of my life, of course there has been hard times but everyone has them and its natural!

Lastly, you may be in a position that if by choice you wouldn’t be in but life throws different obstacles at all of us and its how you handle them that makes you who you are.

Statistics were found here: http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/pages/the-statistics.html Also check this website out, they offer support for children in care.

There are so many websites that can offer support but if you just want to talk to someone who can relate then please feel free to contact me via my contact details on my About Me page.

UNIVERSITY: DO I OR DONT I?

As you may or may not already know, I’m heading to my third year of University and this time of year reminds me of the beginning and how freaked out I was, I’ve heard that there has been a record amount of people applying for higher education and thought this post may be just what you need.

Here’s my take on the life changing decision. I didn’t ever really decide to go to University and never really understood anything about it either, it wasn’t until I got to my third year of college that my tutors told me to apply that I realised how confused I really was about the whole thing. I was on an Art & Design course and always thought I would head into the world of Photography but at the last minute I realised how my interests had changed, so without really over thinking I applied for something I had never even thought about, Fashion Design. I know, seems crazy right? I thought so to.

Eventually I received interview offers and went to them without second thought, again. I guess I felt not going to University was just not an option, not because it wasn’t but because nobody really told me any different.

I went to my first interview and was like a duck out of water, everyone had files of designs and garments and there I was with my art work (I almost ran out, I felt ridiculous) the interview didn’t go well to say the least, luckily it wasn’t my first choice.

Before my next interview (to the Uni I really wanted to go to) I decided to start a book of designs, just something that would show my potential and luckily for me, it did. I was given a chance and here I am today about to go into my third year.

What I am saying is University is a decision only you can make and yes, it is a decision. University isn’t for everyone and even if you do apply and get a month into the course and hate it, then make the right decision for you. University fees are unreal so you have to really want to be there, don’t spend your life paying off debts that weren’t worth the bother.

For me, even after my hasty application, I have never made a more right decision in my life. The course I am on is incredible and I have really learnt so much.

So if you are starting University, good luck! Do it for you.