Suffering from depression and its anxiety's was never an easy ride, not understanding where the sadness comes from and how to manage the anxiety that follows was always a struggle. Not being exposed to those conditions, and labels started allowing me to build a shell around me to crawl up inside, because i didn't know what else to do. I didn't hold much confidence, and i always isolated myself because of that, but when i was surrounded by people, on the outside i seemed to be confident, although not feeling it.
The London Met BPA, (Black Police Association) and their pilot programme YBPA (Young black positive advocates) decided to put on a 10 day residential, where they recruited around 5 to 10 ethnic minority students from a few secondary schools around London. It took place at the metropolitan police training grounds and halls in Hendon. The residential was created to make leaders, to empower and motivate younger generations, to help break stereotypical perceptions in which society holds about young people across london. Allowing the young people to gain skills in leadership and empowerment, and take their skills out to their schools and community's to build projects and voluntary works with the help of the Black police association.
I was amongst one of those young people chosen. I went for an interview with Sandra White, on why i should be part of the group that would benefit, and i presented myself as someone who young people can look up to, i mentioned i had sharp ideas, and i was great with working within a team to be creative. I showcased a confident eager to learn young girl. And i was accepted on the basis of that! I remember being picked up, nervous. On a coach full of boys. I spoke not one word the whole way from East London. When we got there it was around the afternoon, and we had gathered for lunch. I sat alone, and i thought to myself, why did I agree to come here. And i let that play over and over in my mind. I had so much angst i wanted to cry and vomit at the same time. As i ate, tears started rolling from my eyes. We where shown to our rooms, and that night i sat, cried then slept. I didn't have a reason to cry, i just couldn't bring myself out of my shell, and it made me anxious. The next day we had a big talk with all the young people, and the police who welcomed us to their training ground. Throughout the day i isolated myself, the evening followed and i went to Bevan Powell and Sandra White, after going over and over in my head for hours about what i should say, how i should say it, if i should say anything at all. I finally brought the courage with me, and told them maybe i should go home, i cried there in front of them. They reassured me ill be fine, and i reassured them i will not be. I didn't have a phone at the time, and i just wanted to call my Dad. They told me its only the first day, this is an experience you wont forget. Give it another day they pleaded with me. I obliged.
For the rest of that evening i sat in my room alone, and tore myself apart inside. I couldn't stop ruminating how i could escape. What route i could take, how can i get hold of my dad to pick me up. Just then, outside my room all the other girls where making noise. Laughing joking.. so i opened the door slightly and peeped through the gap. I Came out and said... ''oh dear girls, you being naughty you cheeky minxes'' and they laughed. Just then my heart filled with joviality. They told me to join them, and till this day i will never forget those 2 girls, who helped me with my confidence, those two girls who accepted me in their circle straight away meant more to me then they could imagine. Oyin and Nahdia my two new found friends. From then on, my confidence grew, over the 8 days that remained, we had a great time. I became the funny girl quickly, constantly making people laugh struck a great friendship with Ross, constantly laughing and bantering causing trouble, talking when we were supposed to be listening. I met Ray, my lifelong friend, who encourages me at every hurdle i have come to in life. And i respect him entirely for that. I became a socialite, mixing with different groups. Grew friendships with boys in my school i had never spoken to, and new friendships with boys from Langdon school. The last day came where everybody had to present something in there groups, to the parents, carers, police, family and friends about their experiences and what they have learnt. That day was the day i grew a new found confidence. A confidence i never even dreamt of having. I stood on stage, and delivered a play, and kept the audience engaged, improvised some jokes. And to my amazement, other peoples parents came up to me, telling me how funny i am, how well i did. Now the feeling of exhilaration springs to mind.
http://www.metbpa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Black-History-Month-booklet-2012.pdf page 12 ... This was published in the BPA/YBPA online magazine in 2006 roughly
I am the most confidently un-confident person. Oxymoron i know. I Know that within myself i can display a confidence i forget i even posses. But it is always overpowered the the non confident shy introvert that i am. I struggle sometimes to really push myself past comfortablity because that is when i am at my most confident. Maybe the two sides is the gemini in me.
If i could speak to my younger self now... I would go back to that last day of the BPA/YBPA closing ceremony, i would say ''remember that moment for life, remember how you felt when they all laughed because they had no choice but to, remember how confident that made you. Remember when the depression kicks in, that will pass, stop paralysing yourself in that moment to much. Confidence is key, just know you hold that lock to that. You got it Jacqz''
What would you say to your younger self? If you could go back, maybe there is a moment in your life that was a turning point for you, anything. Comment below! Look forward to everyone's responses
Some Images on this blog courtesy of Nahdia, who i mentioned above, as one of the friends i made who helped me with my confidence. She is a travel, mum and lifestyle blogger. Link to her site below.