Some may argue that my greatest achievements include graduating from university, or even getting to university in the first place. Additionally, suggestions include getting my first flat or my job or my constant mental health battles. Professionals in the looked after system may try and convince you that my greatest achievement is being a positive statistic for their local authority, for the government. For me, seeing as I am the only one who could possibly know and I’m the one living my life, my greatest achievement is this. What I’m doing now. Writing.
Writing has given me the opportunity to find my voice. To tell my story how I want to tell it. Poetry, letters, plays, blogs… any writing opportunity, I’ve tried to take advantage of it.
I’ve run a blog since my first year of university; a place to spill my thoughts and feelings, with the ambitious idea that if I helped just one person… my job was done. I’ve never had a continuous theme about what to write about. More often than not, I’ll get inspired and my fast typing fingers will dance across the computer keyboard – sometimes even my phone screen. Recently, I’ve found myself making myself completely vulnerable and writing about my experiences as a looked after child.
However, writing about these experiences could, and has, opened up the public’s eye to life inside the system compared to what the system wants to tell them. I hold up my hands and say that I do not fit the stereotype of what a care kid is supposed to look like but that is simply because I have clawed and fought my way to appear, and to be, a young person. A human. We’re all human.
Doing this, writing, has helped me challenge the growing stigma against looked after children. I’m not afraid of the label “care leaver”. It is mine to own and that in itself is an achievement. Writing has given me a voice to speak openly about my mental health, being in care and many other things that without a screen in front of me – I would simply be too scared to have a conversation about.
Writing, in my eyes, is by far my greatest achievement. It’s given me the confidence and the platform to put these dancing fingertips to good use. To speak my truth, to spread the word about successful looked after children and to change that horrible, horrible stereotype.
This blog was an entry in our ‘Write Speak Share’ writing competition. The theme for the competition was ‘Your Biggest Achievement’.