Nadia writes about the struggles she has met being a young woman and a young mother facing the world of work.
I’ve never been a confident person — I think that’s mainly due to my dad leaving when I was five. It affected me really badly. I felt unloved and unwanted. I started to develop anxiety and irrational fears.
When I got to high school I started to have new worries about the way I looked.
Other kids would tease me, I was too black, too skinny and my lips were too big.
I hated myself, I was ugly and I was so crippled with anxiety that I couldn’t express myself.
While I was in high school I made some bad decisions.
I managed to get my GCSES and I had a place in college. I decided that I would go and I had plans to do drama and be an actress. But my depression took over and things spiraled.
At 16 I ended up homeless, my mum was going through depression herself and she couldn’t cope with me. I sofa-surfed, stayed in squats and hostels.
When I was 20 years old I converted to Islam, got married and had my first child.
He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I promised never to go back to my old lifestyle.
This time was very difficult for me, changing my religion and having a baby was a complete lifestyle change!
When my son was 1 year old I decided that I wanted to work.
I found an apprenticeship paying above the national minimum wage – most of the ones I had seen were paying a maximum £100 a week which I wouldn’t have been able to afford because of child care and my husband was a student.
I didn’t think I had a chance, no work experience and not the best GCSE results, how will I explain what I have been doing since I left school?
I decided to just go for it anyway figuring that there was nothing to lose.
Not long after, I heard the news that I got the interview, my first ever interview!
I prepared my answers and I managed to pull it off.
A week or so later I received a call to say I got the job. I was ecstatic!
Straight away I felt more confident in myself and felt what I had to say was worth being listened to.
On my first day as an apprentice support worker, I met the team. I noticed that they were all a lot older than me and most of them had been working there several years.
After a few weeks there were comments made about me being too young and what do I know about this job — I am probably just a student and ‘it is about life experience not qualifications’.
People jumped to conclusions about my abilities because of my age.
This knocked my confidence even more, I started to believe I was in the wrong job. I was leaving everyday feeling miserable and like my work wasn’t good enough.
After a chat with my manager I broke down and I decided to leave.
This experience put me off going to work for a while, I thought that I was best off staying at home being a housewife.
I have two children now and have been living on a low income for a long time. With me and my husband being out of work it has been really difficult.
In April this year I started volunteering, which gave me so much confidence that I applied for a 12 month traineeship.
I am now two weeks into this and I would like to get my level 3 qualifications and go to university to study social work next year.
I’m finally starting to feel more positive about the future.
This post was originally published on the Young Women’s Trust blog in September 2016.
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Work It Out is a free service for women aged 16-30, provided by Young Women’s Trust, which can help you make the first step towards feeling more confident and ready for work.
They offer everything from CV advice and help with job applications to confidence coaching and interview preparation.
The coaching is:
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There are translators available when English isn’t a first language.
Sign up on the Work It Out website or phone/text for free on 0808 808 8099.
The service can help you:
- Figure out what you want to do
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- Transform your confidence
- Learn how to be your best in job interviews
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- Plus much more.
They also offer a CV and Job Application Service, which is:
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