Within 6 weeks of giving birth to her daughter at 17, Harriet started university and now has a degree (plus a lot of lessons learned) to show for it. Here’s her advice on achieving your dreams and staying true to yourself.
Here’s what Harriet says in the video if you can’t watch it…
Hi, my name’s Harriet, I got pregnant at 17, my child is 6 this year, and I’m 24. The things I valued a lot as a single young person was my SLEEP, doing my hair, or changing my hair, and performing, acting — performing and acting, find me there, that was right up my street.
It very quickly became apparent that I took these things for granted. Because, a lot like you, I’m exhausted and I hardly do any of the three I once loved doing in my spare time.
When I became a parent, it was a really hard structure to balance. How do I fulfil my goals, expectations as a parent, but also keep up with my peers as a young person?
I really started to lose myself, like that sense of being a young person because of the pressures to knock stereotypes and preconceptions around young parenting.
I didn’t want to be that statistic and I was obsessed to not be that statistic.
However, in my obsession to do this I began to forget what music I liked, what my idea of fashion was, who could be my friend, who couldn’t be my friend now that I’m a parent, who couldn’t sit with me and my new child or this new interest.
In hindsight, all my control did was isolate myself and knock my confidence in things I really once enjoyed. With the aim of what? The aim to show others that I could be a good parent, regardless to my age.
It took me several years until it finally dawned on me that practitioners, professionals, and other parents all have their views regardless.
Slowly but surely, I got myself back. But it took me about 3 years.
And just a word to the wise, school and further education is not a hobby!
I had my child and 6 weeks after I gave birth, I was back in education starting my first year of university. 8 weeks prior to that, I was doing A-levels at college.
Although I’m proud of my achievements, I have nothing else to fall back on as an interest, firstly. And secondly, perhaps similar to you, studying was never not an option.
My African parents REFUSED that I be left behind. And with that, I promised as long as I had their support, COUGH COUGH (child care) I would complete my education with my peers.
As a result, since 2015 I’ve been a graduate with a BA degree in criminology youth justice… woo!
My advice to young parents is not to lose the things you love. If you have the opportunity to do it, do it.
This year, I’ve booked my first vacation which will be alone with my child and I say ‘alone’ because usually I’m like, ‘I’m gonna go on holiday, can someone follow us, because I don’t want to go by myself?’ And I’m acting as if I haven’t had this child for the past 5 years.
But it’s actually just me and her exploring the world. I’ve also left my child for 2 weeks and gone abroad, I’ve started singing, for audiences again, I’m reading and I love it.
And for young people who don’t have children yet, this is not to advise you not to have children or to have children, that is your prerogative, but rather, value your interests and what makes you ‘you’ just as much as your education and relationships.
More advice on work and education from young mums like Harriet
Richelle is studying midwifery, works in retail and is a full-time mum to one-year-old Zac! Here she gives her advice on how to manage your priorities — read the full blog here if you can’t watch below.
Find more advice on the blogs below: