Chipo’s Story: A journey different to everyone else’s
I was fascinated by people, their thoughts, their feelings and also the idea that I wanted to help people.
During university I had this grand design about how my life was meant to be. I was always pretty anxious about my choices in life but there was nothing more nerve-racking that knowing I was now supposed to make major decisions for myself. A little background… I have two degrees (a law degree and psychology degree) which to some people sounds amazing but for me it felt like I traded in the experience of learning against how to be adult straight after my first undergraduate degree. But I could not for the life of me imagine practising law or having any sort of career related to law. So, the decision to do psychology was based on the fact that I was fascinated by people, their thoughts, their feelings and also the idea that I wanted to help people.
So fast forward to half-way through my second degree, I realised that I wanted to be a counsellor, after loads of research I found I could go into counselling psychology, but the ‘how’ became the problem. After university I was a complete wreck, I had no idea how I wanted to proceed, I had also taken a few months out of my life to help my parents and little brothers with something personal. I was happy to help but this meant it stopped me from working full-time, or even working at all. This really made me anxious because everyone else was moving on with their lives. I felt like I wasn’t sure what I wanted in my life anymore, I knew the path I wanted to take but knowing that my friends were already advancing and I was still feeling like a fish out of water was weighing very heavily on me.
However before all of this, I had started volunteering at Manchester Mind Children and Young People’s (CYP) Services as a peer mentor and then took part in the Manchester Volunteer Advice Partnership (MVAP) training to assist with their Advice drop-in service. I wanted to build my skills and gain experience but also see how I could help people. Even though my feelings were still really jumbled this remained a constant in my life, it really helped stabilise my thoughts and that alone helped tremendously. Supporting my first mentee was nerve-racking but so rewarding because I could see that I could give something back even. The training I received from MVAP was amazing because it made me feel like I was gaining the tools to further help people. But even more than that being able to go to Manchester Mind really helped calm a lot of my anxiety, especially because I was surrounded by very supportive people.
However, once I finished university and finally started working, I still felt like I was so behind, and my self-doubt remained. Thankfully helping at CYP changed the way I viewed myself. Being asked to take on different tasks, being supported, or even being asked if I was comfortable to take on that task made me feel like I was capable. A lot of my anxiety stemmed from stressing about the fact that everyone was at a higher level than I was, but being at CYP as a mentor and as a volunteer advisor helped me build the courage to ask questions, to ask to for help or to take on more tasks because I knew I would be supported. I am more confident about my own abilities; I might still have some doubts here and there but now I know everyone is on a different journey. Being at CYP helped me to get here and every week I look forward to coming to CYP.
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