We are all constantly discovering more about ourselves; there’s always room for improvement, but here’s what I’ve learnt so far.
I struggled my way through school, seemingly working much harder for lesser grades; I left sixth form with good grades, but what I really learnt was that I had ENTHUSIASM and GRIT, and lots of it!!!
I discovered this in particular having been declined a place on an expedition to South Africa, run in conjunction with my school; I was so determined not to miss out that I teamed up with some other equally determined classmates and we formed our own team to head to Tanzania!
The expedition was life-changing; ask any of my close friends and they'll tell you I came back an entirely different, better person! We scaled the dizzy heights of Mt Meru (4566m), volunteered at an orphanage and built a play area for the kids. I identified my own style of leadership, tested my limits and found a coinciding confidence in my abilities. Learning about finances, navigation and time-management, we returned home as well-rounded young ladies!
Through many deep and meaningful conversations with my teammates, often sat on a log, overlooking the most spectacular of views, and mentoring outside of a classroom setting, I realised that my struggles were because I had been striving to follow a prescribed path rather than forging my own!
And that there was the catalyst; a convenient nudge that pushed me off the path I was on and onto a new one, my own one! I changed many of my AS-Level subject choices, ALL six of my University preferences and indeed the profession from Veterinary Medicine to Aeronautical Engineering! Through sheer hard work, determination and the ability to demonstrate adaptability to several different scenarios I gained a place at my first choice, Loughborough University, to study Aeronautical Engineering, and sponsorship from the Royal Air Force.
Things only got more adventurous. . .
My idea of a ‘holiday’ has since been a little unusual; building Long-drop toilets for every house in a village in the Volta region of Ghana at age 17, learning how to be an assistant Dive Instructor in Honduras and Mozambique, project managing an initiative for education sponsorship programme at Kumi Hospital, Uganda or rebuilding a school for a hilltribe village in Thailand, to name just a few! These projects helped me grow as a person, meet likeminded and inspiring individuals and take time to really ‘switch off’ to technology and the westernised drumbeat. Without even realising it, I was pushing myself through mental and physical activities, taking time to reflect and make changes to my goals and methods, and to challenge my beliefs, dreams and perceived limitations.
I've done some inspiring things...
Plenty of challenging things...
And some down-right crazy things...
I have accomplished a significant amount in my nine years serving as an Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force, even by most people’s standards. Having always been a Yes-person, and holding some niche military-qualifications, I’ve normally been the first to volunteer to trial new principles, deploy, or complete unusual tasks that are far outside the bounds of my ‘day-job’. These include:
Whilst I thrive on a challenge, and have loved the opportunities the RAF brings, I became a severely depleted version of myself and was signed off work with burn-out.
And so, at aged 30, I knew something needed to change…so I decided to put my skills to good use, unleash my imagination and turn my idea into a reality!
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