Being a boss, or more specifically, the boss, brings up images of men in suits barking orders to their superiors. The phone company, giffgaff, are doing a campaign that aims to remind people that they can be the boss of their own life, by asking people to share stories about ways in which they have taken charge of a situation, done something inspirational or done something to change their life.
I’ve had the idea to write a similar post for a while, it’s been sat in my editorial calendar for a month or so but keeps getting pushed back. But now I’ve written it.
How I took control over my life.
When I was in my second year of university I was going though a pretty hard time. I was focusing all my time and efforts on self-destructive behaviours, I don’t want to get too much into the detail off it, but it was taking a massive toll on my physical health, mental health and university work. I was a train wreck and things were snowballing down hill very fast. It’s a be scary to think back about how out of control I was. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it (hence the lack of detail).
I studied French and Philosophy at the University of Bradford. It wasn’t a requirement to spend a year in France, but I was at breaking point so decided I needed something more drastic than prozac and therapy. That shit did nothing for me anyway. Something needed to change.
Out of fear of what I would do to myself if I stayed in the same environment, I applied to be an language assistant in France. I didn’t hear anything about the application so thought I had been rejected.
Then, in August, I got a phone call saying they had a place for me in a small down called Saint Avold, right next the boarder of Germany.
I had 4 weeks to prepare. I was a meek little thing, I mean, I’m still a bit awkward now but gosh, back then I was CREEPILY awkward. I was terrified.
I was to move to a different country completely on my own and teach English to French teenagers. Completely on my own. I’d have to get a French bank account, find my way around France, register with a doctor COMPLETELY ON MY OWN. No friends, no family, no nothing. Just me. Corinne. Completely on my own. Did I mention that I would be on my own?
I flew to Paris, took a two trains to my small town and was met at the train station by one of the teachers at the school. She drive me to the school. She gave me the keys and showed me around the apartment at the top of the boarding school and left me there. I wasn’t really sure what to do, there was no internet but luckily I had picked up some wine in Paris (always prepared, ha). I drank wine, stuck photos to my wall, read a book and spent my first night in France alone.
That was the start of a very difficult, exciting, scary, interesting and life changing 9 months.
To stand up in front of a class of thirty 15 year olds isn’t easy at first, but it’s so surprising how you get use to it. I met new people, too. Other assistants around the area – we got together from time to time and had a few parties, trips to Paris and to Germany.
Here are some of the pictures of my time in France.
When I see family now, they all say how much I’ve changed since coming back from France. I wouldn’t talk to anyone, I would stay in my room and I felt like I had no social skills – it was so difficult to talk to people and be myself.
I felt like a monotone mess that could only answer questions in a yes or no manner. My confidence and self esteem was terrible. It’s like showing myself that I could do something so big helped me to find my personality. And bring it out. Which in turn, really helped with the problems I was having being myself. Instead of trying to run away from myself, to destroy myself, to numb myself – I learnt that I’m not so bad and I even sometimes embrace myself.
When I returned to England, I went back to my part time job during the summer at a petrol station at Tesco. I took a trip to London and meet a friend who lived down there and I remember a lady at work telling me how brave I was to get the train all the way down to London on my own. I thought to myself ‘that’s nothing, I moved to a different country’. And I felt empowered.
What taking control of me life taught me.
Moving to a different country taught me the following things:
- Thinking about doing something scary is a lot more daunting than DOING the scary thing.
- It really doesn’t matter if someone thinks you are stupid, awkward or not ‘cool’ enough to be around. It’s more their problem than yours.
- Not everyone will like you, but those people aren’t important.
- There is nothing you cannot do.
- Generally, people are nicer and more accepting than you expect them to be.
- You should put your own happiness above almost anything else, you only have one chance at life so enjoy it.
- Letting silly things hold you back will give you nothing but regret.
- Fear is just an emotion and cannot hurt you.
- There is no point in worrying about things that you cannot control.
- If you are not happy with your life, only YOU have the power to change it.
- You shouldn’t let somebody else dictate your happiness.
Have you ever done anything that has made you feel empowered?