Being NEET in Cambridge: Day Three
Written by Kyle Posted in General Advice, Being NEET, Learners' Stories
Hello, and thanks for coming back to check out my third entry. In my last entry I left you all on a cliff hanger. Paula and I had finished our first meeting together and I was feeling much better about going to meet her.
I'll be continuing this story from where I left off. I hope my experiences will help you through your journey of being NEET.
We had arranged to potentially meet up in St Ives. I knew the place, having been there once or twice before, but I was worried about meeting Paula there.
It had been roughly a week since my first meeting with her and now she wanted me to leave my comfort zone and get out and about. I just couldn't break this mental barrier which was preventing me from leaving my village, my home, which I had built up around myself to protect me from the outside world.
How did Paula manage to persuade me to meet her? Well, by shattering these mental barriers. I was very anxious around new people; I suppose you could say I had become an extreme introvert. I hated people being loud and was afraid of potential conflicts. I was seriously outside my comfort zone.
She reminded me of the goal we had set together, she would help me however she could, because I’d told her I wanted to do something, ANYTHING before I turned 18. For some reason turning 18 signified a turning point for me, it meant I could claim benefits and live off them with no intention of improving my situation. I could be an adult and not listen to what other people said. I guess it meant I could continue leading my previous life indefinitely.
I realized that deep down I didn't want that. So I had to draw on all my willpower and inner strength to see it through, and I was glad I did.
The problem was that I’d slept badly the day before our arranged meeting. I felt terrible because I was going to force myself outside again. I even considered cancelling the appointment, (by which I mean turning my phone off and going back upstairs to sleep, wake up and game again). Remembering the conversation we’d had before reminded me of the goals I’d set myself. It wasn't strenuous but it was hard to break the habits I’d delved into.
We agreed that I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting the bus when the majority of people my age would be finishing college. This left us 2 options, early mid-day or late afternoon. I chose the late afternoon option, which made me feel slightly better knowing that it would be dark so there'd be fewer people about and less likelihood of running into difficult situations.
So as I left the house feeling tired, anxious and just resentful that I was forcing myself through a personal hell to meet up with a person I barely knew, I contented myself with the idea that this was a stepping stone to a better life.
We met in the library, as it was a quiet place to talk and less intrusive. The first thing Paula did was thank me for coming. She wasn't sure if I would leave my home to meet her.
Her faith in my ability to fix my life surprised me. All feelings of restfulness passed away and I was actually touched that she wanted to meet up and help me. We walked further into the library for some privacy and then she asked me what I wanted to do. Anything was realistic she told me, I could enter college, find an apprenticeship or work.
When she suggested college I was a little taken aback as I’d been there before, and it had ended badly all round. But this time it would just be me on my own merits, with support I hadn't received before. And I knew what I wanted, I wanted to re-enter college life and full time education again.
The saying often goes, you don't realize what you've missed in secondary school until it's too late. For me it wasn't too late, but I still remember thinking I’d messed my entire life up.
However, after writing down a few of my goals - enter college, find a part-time job to fit around college - we'd done everything needed.
And so as I got up and thanked her for meeting me, she told me we hadn't finished. She was actually going to take me to a cafe. As you can probably imagine, my mind went blank when she said this.
Everything had been going so well, I couldn't say no. We ended up visiting a cafe near the library; it was small and felt cosy. There wasn't a crowd of people shouting, and I felt relaxed enough to ask all the questions I’d been holding back from asking Paula. We ordered our drinks and food, and I suppose you could say this is where our second meeting started.
I asked her various things about her career and what she had done before. I enquired about her previous work with young people and how she had helped them. I felt that she was an incredibly approachable person, who wouldn't judge me. She only has my best intentions at heart.
It was much easier to relax in her company, and when we had finished our *actual* meeting, she paid for the drinks and meals, and refunded my bus fair. This meeting hadn't cost me a penny and was only getting better.
She was encouraging me socially and became a person I had never had in the education system: a person to be there and help, no matter what.
We walked to my bus stop, and she saw me off. I’m afraid to say, I couldn't wait until we next met up. I was facing the issues I’d had with college head on, giving me the confidence to succeed in getting on the course. However, that is a story for another day!
I’d like to thank you for continually reading this and hope you’ll learn from my past experiences. Remember to share this with others, sending it to people you think may benefit from reading about my experiences.