Recently I’ve been hanging out with my school friends a lot more and, among other really important topics, I find that I keep wandering back to how much I’ve changed over the past few years since leaving secondary school. Trust me, I know exactly what you younger readers are thinking, “I’ve heard it all before, another 20-something telling me I don’t understand”, but that isn’t what this is about.

A few years ago, between suffering with anxiety and depression and an ever-growing self-hatred, I would never have pictured myself where I am now. A challenging job, a strong set of friendships both in and out of work, studying a degree and a sense of where I want to go and what I actually want to do with my life. To some, this won’t sound like much at all. But if you told me 3 years ago that I’d not only have a job, but be promoted twice in the space of 16 months I would have laughed at you (and probably cried a bit). I have gone from having severe phone anxiety to picking up a call every 10 minutes and not having an ounce of anxiety at all. And what most people in my situation will tell you now is that it feels crazy that I have this newfound confidence, but honestly? It feels crazy to me that 3 years ago I never had this belief in myself.

It’s difficult to pinpoint where exactly this change took place. Maybe it was during college when I decided that I wasn’t going to tolerate the way people treated me any more, or maybe it was when I first got a summer job and my manager at the time gave me constant praise and encouragement and pushed me to do better and to want more from life. At some point between those moments, I learnt the beauty of saying “actually, I can and I will”.

When I was 15 years old I had a practice interview where I was told by a teacher I had never met that my efforts were not good enough and finding a job would be difficult if I “continued to be reserved and difficult”. When I was 16 years old one of my teachers told me there was no way I would pass the course if I didn’t participate more in class, despite the fact that two of the girls constantly bullied me into silence. When I was 17 years old my head of sixth form told me she saw no point in me applying for University because I wasn’t mature enough for that kind of commitment and my predicted grades would never get me into anywhere of real value. My entire school life I was told by someone, somewhere that I was not and would never be good enough. But I slowly realised this really wasn’t the case.

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Yes, it took me a while, and I am still learning to believe it, but it’s true: I’m pretty damn brilliant. For anyone who knows me, they will also know that this belief isn’t always there. There are days and sometimes weeks where I do not and can not believe this  about myself. But when I think about just how much I’ve achieved over the past 3 years, much of which had been drilled into me was not possible, I’ve realised the below to be true…

Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.

While I’m the first to admit that some things will always seem impossible, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t try. You should never stop trying because someone tells you to. The way I see it, the more people tell you it’s impossible, the more people you will amaze when you prove them wrong.

For me personally, when I started gaining that real self-belief, that’s when I saw so many new opportunities arise. I remind myself frequently that 3 years ago I would never have been where I am now if it weren’t for an amazing set of work colleagues and a personal desire to achieve. Over the past 2 years in particular I have chosen to surround myself only with a small handful of people who keep me aiming high and chasing my dreams.

I’m truly sorry for such a clumsy blog post with no real solid moral to it but what I’m really trying to get across to you here is that throughout your life, especially your young life, people will try to break your spirit. They will tell you that your dreams are stupid or unreachable, but you can’t accept that. Things will change the minute you decide to have confidence and never take “it’s impossible” as an answer. And if people try to break you? Be unbreakable.

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~Jem x

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