Putting the past behind me: 3 years on

3 years ago, people would never have believed I’d be such an active person in my community. Of course, I always wanted to do my bit to make change in the world, but it was in much quieter, peaceful forms. For example, I would read pieces about the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the internet when I had some free time, and this stemmed my love for pandas.

Back then, I would never think of speaking out in a group, I’ll admit it frightened me a little. I thought I’d be judged for my opinion and it simply wouldn’t matter in class (at times, I still feel like this, but the majority of time, I will speak out!). Therefore, I chose to take a back seat.

Back in primary school, the bullying started, and it continued whilst I was in high school. So, my time in school wasn’t the most positive of experiences. One spiral of the bullying was due to my hair and the nature of it; this is something I had inherited from my mum. This was due to the fact it was often big and fluffy and as a result, I commonly was compared to the likes of a poodle and a power ranger (as apparently electricity volumised my hair). So, as soon as one person made a comment, others did too, like it was cool to do so. This knocked any confidence I had and for days on end (I would not like to count how many) I felt at rock bottom. This all continued for a long, long time and it should have been put to an end once and for all. Despite this, I had a support network, which I’m ever so grateful for, as they have lifted me up in times of extreme difficulty.

The people who said these comments at the time, must have been oblivious to how they were making me feel, but I don’t hold a grudge against them now. They’ve made me realise that I don’t have to change how I am, instead I can be myself and embrace this style.

In addition to this, I was also bullied for my size and how I was too ‘skinny’. So there was a period of time where I didn’t know what was right. Gradually I got over this stigma and insensitivity of others and felt more positive about my body image. Of course, from time to time I think about this, but that’s normal and I’m now more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.

I was also pressured by other students, as they compared me to my twin. I started to believe that I was not good enough and that I was just a shadow. I got labelled as a ‘nerd’ many times, and even though, this should have been seen as a good thing, it reflected bad on me as the term was always used in a negative way, to insult me on a regular basis. My mum, who is honestly one of the best people you’ll ever meet, helped me through this and the bullying and I owe her everything as she makes me want to be the best I can be, and not let anyone or anything hold me back.

Education was a tough time for me academically, because I’m not someone who absorbs all the information instantly, and I certainly am not one for writing clearly and concisely, that is definitely a struggle of mine. But, I came out of high school with 11 GCSEs and out of sixth form with 3 A-Levels, so I can’t be doing too badly, especially as I’m now at university studying International Relations and Politics.

In 2014, an opportunity came up about the local youth parliament and although it was extremely different and way out of my comfort zone, I applied, thinking I wouldn’t get any further with the application. After a month or so, I was told I was one of four candidates standing for my local constituency seat; Mid Norfolk. This was quite overwhelming in its self. A campaign was on the horizon and I had to find methods of engaging young people and asking them to give me their vote. I managed to do just that though, as I was elected in March 2014! The two year term I had as a member of youth parliament was truly fantastic and I don’t regret one bit of it, it was so worth it and I did so much during the term including attending conferences, attending the annual sitting and the annual sitting in the House of Commons. Then after 2 years, I became the Procedures Group Representative for the East of England region, and it was amazing to help plan and run the events I had attended before as an MYP and lead an amazing bunch of truly inspirational people! To name them all and everyone who helped me get where I am today would be a long long list, so I would just like to say thank you to all of you ( you know who you are, or should do!)

I hope to write more about my experiences since my journey as a Member of the UK Youth Parliament on this blog, these include my activity in the Labour Party, UK Youth Voice and Scouting. Also, I will share any opportunities I find where you can get involved too and make a change!

Thank for reading,

Emily x

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