March 3rd, 2020: International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day today, so today I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on the achievements I have made over the past year.

This time last year, I was at an award ceremony for the Kent Women in Business Awards 2019, as a finalist in the professional development category.  I didn’t win, but it was a huge acknowledgement of my achievement  in setting up my business.

Since then, a few things have changed! I’m no longer running my business, but I’m not disappointed about this. I’m far from it. I have been able to achieve so much from the experience, and I am so proud of what I managed to do over the course of the 18 months it was running for – and how many people we met, engaging in memories, smiles and laughter. It was truly a beautiful experience!

So, reflecting briefly on the highlights of the past year, (I say briefly, because otherwise we’d be here for a while), let’s look at the things I have achieved since International Women’s Day 2019 to 2020:

1. Being a finalist in the KWIBA 2019, and being brave enough to attend on my own. I was fortunate enough to know a couple of other business owners attending as finalists, so I didn’t feel as nervous, had I’d not known anyone!

2. In April 2019, I worked at the University of Kent for the Autism Arts Festival, and had one of the greatest weekends! I was extremely grateful for the opportunity, and it made me feel at home, in a world I belong. It was engaging and enlightening. It was exciting and a great learning experience.

3. I completed both the Mental Health First Aid for Adults and Young People (Adult: May 2019/Youth: August 2019) . This was with Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind

4. I signed up to ‘Newbury College’ as part of The Skills Network , to study a TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills, and completed it in June 2019

5. In July 2019, I enrolled at Canterbury Christ Church University to study a BA (hons) in Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring… Without a clue of what I was letting myself in for!

6. In August, 2019, I was back at the University of Kent, working the weekend of bOing! Once again, I found myself in my element! Surrounded by art and creativity… And bunny ears! Seeing so many people embrace the arts and culture was amazing.

7. September 2019 – Oh my goodness. We didn’t start at university until mid-way through the month. Yet the beginning would then fly by. I signed up to the majority of Wellbeing Workshops, began to attend Chooseday Chill, and develop a routine which I’d feel much more comfortable in.

8. In October 2019, my lovely small ukulele group had a performance at a local WI. It was the first time I’d play a musical instrument and sing in public for some time!

9. In November, I attended the launch of GradForce conference for employers, and as as a student who’d only been there a couple of months, definitely felt like the impostor, though as a business owner, I also tried to see it from that perspective! This then opened up amazing opportunities to get involved with the GradForce team, which has been amazing. I also signed up to StudyFit, which is a programme designed for students to get fit and work on their confidence and wellbeing. I was given some gentle exercises to do – of which I’m sure the PT will be pleased to hear I’m still doing them!

10. In December 2019, I completed the first semester. I still had a couple of assignments due for the following month – But I’d made it! I’d passed the other assignments, unsure how – Because that inner-critic had convinced me that I’d failed. I was relieved because it’s been a difficult transition to university and I wasn’t making it easy for anyone, including myself!

11. We reach 2020! In January, I received the final 3 grades for my first semester assignments… I feel like I’ve set the bar now, and I’ll be working hard over the next couple of years to keep at it. I’ve done well, and I should be proud of myself. I am – That’s the whole point of this post – to highlight my achievements! I also attended the Partners in Learning conference, and completed the Peer Mentor and Peer Assisted Learning training for CCCU students. We didn’t return for semester two until the end of January, and I was trying very hard not to lose the plot ensuring I had things booked to keep myself busy. Of course, this was also the month I decided to close my business. Fortunately, this is something the Prince’s Trust were okay with me doing. After all, they want to see achievement and moving forwards. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing at university, and sometimes things in life change, and that’s okay. This allowed me to think outside the box, and with the beginning of two optional modules, I’ve been so excited about the potential career prospects.

12. Last month – February. It was a strange month, I feel. Perhaps it’s because I’m beginning to feel more settled at university? I’m enjoying the modules, and although my mental illness is still having an impact on my experience, I am still seeing the light through the cracks and can enjoy the occasional moments of happiness, which is what it’s all about!

As I round up to today – We’re in March 2020. I’ve now produced a short film as part of a presentation for one of my optional modules, which was amazing to do. It was my first presentation and my first assignment of the second semester, and I passed! I feel I’m beginning to connect with people, and find my feet at university. It’s taken a few months to settle, and it won’t be long until the first year is over. In fact, we finish in May. I’m very, very anxious about this as it’s a huge gap between year one and two, so I’m now working on putting things in place for me to keep a routine and enable me to continue learning and working on the skills and knowledge I’ve learnt over the past year. I also attended another training day with Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind, which was a Suicide Prevention and Awareness course, which was very interesting.

I’m had my ups and downs, and no doubt more downs that ups! However, I haven’t let anything stop me, and I’ve defied my own expectations. My path in life has changed, but I’m embracing every new adventure. I’m being aware of my thoughts and feelings and I am learning more about myself as time goes on.

I am so proud of the past year, and I know that I’ll always have the inner-critic, the impostor syndrome, the negative thoughts and feelings, but there is a way of managing it all, and I’m challenging myself to do just this.

I’m excelling and I am hopeful for the next year!

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