Being The Change I Want to See Through 3 Years of YP Insight

When people learn about or get involved with Young People Insight, the question I am most commonly asked is: “Why did you decide to start something like this?”  No matter how many times I am asked this question, it still throws me a little, as I know that I will take a full story to explain.

I started YPI, because I wanted to empower the voices of young people and ensure they knew their voices mattered, as I often felt that mine didn’t.  I started YPI, because I wanted all young people to feel they belonged somewhere and never feel as lonely as I felt.  I started YPI, because I wanted to create a space where young people expanded their mindset by stepping out of their comfort zones, which was the case for me.

All in all, I started YPI, because I knew young people and young adults needed it.  Leaving the teenage years and entering into adulthood can be an awkward time, which we are left to navigate on our own.  I set up YPI to be a bridge that eases the transition, which is why it is aimed at 16-26 year olds.

However, if I was going to answer with one sentence, I would say that I started YPI because I wanted to be the change I wanted to see.

Before starting the YPI blog in 2014, making change was something I regularly spoke about, but not really doing anything about.  Once I started the blog and spent more time interacting with young people at a charity in Croydon, I knew that I wanted to create a platform for young people to make their raw, authentic voices heard, come together from behind a screen in the process.

I had ideas upon ideas written down in notebooks from 2014, but if you knew me at that time, you would know that my confidence was basically shot and I continuously doubted my abilities.  Once I finally developed that confidence and began believing I could do more than I thought, YPI was ready to be launched as the physical platform you know in 2016.

Since launching YPI in 2016, I believe that I have been the change I want to see, despite always wanting to be a greater change in society as a whole.  I especially want to reach more young people, because I know there are more out there who will benefit greatly from being part of the YP Insight family and building the confidence they need to be the change themselves.

It has been a struggle to keep YPI going over the past three years, but it is the young people involved in the platform who keep me going (partnered with the resilience and will God gives me).  They inspire and uplift me at events, especially with the bravery shown when sharing their poetry.  I want to continue sustaining and developing this platform not only for them, but for every young person who is yet to be a part of our family.

I cannot stress how much I have learnt and grown, through building up YPI and the various events that have been put on.  I’ve developed skills as a host, facilitator, events manager, poet and so much more.  I’ve also gained knowledge on a variety of topics – which I can honestly say rarely crossed my mind before – including modern slavery, young carers and psychosis.  The more I know, the more I want to know.

Starting YPI has made me a better, stronger and even more understanding person.  It’s taken me out of my comfort zone, and continues to do so, which is not so terrifying anymore.  I’ve come to embrace it, which is why I finally got it registered as a Community Interest Company this year.

Making YPI official was something I have wrestled with continuously, especially when there were so many moments when I wanted to walk away and put an end to it altogether.  I’m so glad I persevered though, as I can finally say that I’m the Director of my own company, which is something I always wanted.

Three years is a short space of time in the grand scheme of things, but to keep YPI going for this long feels like a great achievement to me, especially when I have seen a number of initiatives in Croydon come to an end during this time.

So to everyone who has supported Young People Insight over the past three years, and to everyone who supported my journey even before that, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I could not have kept this platform standing without you.  And to every member of the YP Insight family, I love you all so much.

Here’s to many years more.

Why leaving university was the best decision I ever made

I have recently read a number of stories about individuals dropping out of university, and I have also spent a decent amount of time telling others why I made the decision to drop out.  However, my explanation has been quite minimal.  Today, I feel inspired to tell the full story of why I left university, and why it was the best decision I ever made.

While I was at university, I came to the sudden realisation that the career I had spent so long striving for was no longer my dream.  It was a terrifying feeling that seemed to smack me in the face and lead to a whirlwind of questions.  Should I call it a day?  Should I persevere to the end?  Should I give up on my dream?

I wasn’t like a lot of young people who struggle to figure out what they want to do in life, as Jane Austen Wedding DressI had envisioned becoming a fashion designer from the age of ten. I loved art and drawing clothes, and I intended to become the founder, manager and Dress Design 4designer of an organisation that created clothes for curvier figures.

I set out a step-by-step plan to reach my goal, and nothing or no one was going to deter me. Study Art & Design, Textiles and Business Studies at GCSE. Check. Study Textiles and Business Studies at A-Level. Check.  Then before I reached the world of work, there was just one more thing to tick off my checklist. University.

As soon as I knew that I wanted to become a fashion designer, I set my sights on going to the London College of Fashion (LCF). This was my dream university and I was determined that I would be there in September 2010, starting my degree.  Completing a Foundation Year was not a part of my plan, which saw me draining myself to create a stand-out portfolio and build on my fashion knowledge to ensure my place on my chosen course.

My hard work did pay off and by the time my A-level results were released, I was enrolled on the BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development course. I was excited about taking on an amazing course that combined business intelligence with the creative side of fashion. And to top it all off, it was rounded out perfectly with a placement year in the middle.

However, as I worked through my first term, I sensed that something was wrong. I tried and tried to like my course, but for some reason I couldn’t.  No matter how long I stayed, I did not feel comfortable at my beloved LCF.  Despite all these warning signs going off in my head, I made the decision to stay put and persevere.  This had been my dream for so long and I was not giving up now.

Final prototype for Sensual Poison
Final prototype for Sensual Poison
Collage for my final uni project, Sensual Poison
Collage for my final university project, Sensual Poison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

University got harder and harder, and no matter how hard I was trying, it seemed that I was not progressing.  In fact, my marks seemed to be getting worse and I hated that, because I have high expectations of myself.  I also found myself feeling emotionally and physically drained, as I gave up all of myself to my degree.  There were times when I even found myself dreaming about my projects, which was a little unsettling.

When it was finally time for me to find a work placement, I struggled and ultimately ended P1110023 No 2up without one. This cut me deep, resulting in my feeling rejected, angry and not good enough.  It was the wakeup call I so desperately needed to reconsider what it was that I wanted in life.

Instead of taking a placement year, I took a gap year to re-evaluate where my life was heading before returning to final year. However, as I delved deeper into self-meditation, I realised that I no longer wanted to work in fashion, although I did want to complete my final year so that I would at least have a degree.

As I began making the necessary preparations to return to LCF, feelings of distress and P1110024 No 2unhappiness began to burn up inside me. I finally took the time to really see how sad and depressed my degree had made me over the two years.  I knew that my final year would destroy me, so I refused to go back.

Although I still had a strong love and interest in fashion, I could see that my heart was not in it and that a part of me that was not pursuing fashion for the right reasons.  Some individuals think I’m crazy for not finishing my degree, but I knew that I had to go back to basics and discover my true calling.  However, it wasn’t too hard, because writing has always been my real passion.

Changing my career path threw me off-balance and brought numerous fears to the surface, but that’s okay, because writing is what I truly love.  Just like one of my tutors from LCF said, it’s a good thing I discovered this now rather than 10 or 20 years down the line.

Staying at university would have been extremely damaging to my emotional and mental health, especially when I felt that I was not getting the type of support I needed.  Leaving LCF was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done and it has helped me to become happier than I’ve been in a long time.

I have also been able to properly kickstart my writing career by gaining experience and working on my own projects, which is what’s important.  Although I have no clue about what the future holds for me, I do intend to be successful and prove all those who thought I was crazy completely wrong.  Dropping out of university is seriously the best decision I have ever made.

An article I wrote for Croydon Guardian
One of my articles for Croydon Guardian