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Stories of WYWM -Perseverance through Self-Doubt by Tabitha Paschalis

Mel O'Sullivan - February 7, 2022

On July 16th, 2017, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree with nothing but hope for my future, and optimism that the world would give me the life I needed in order to thrive, develop, and become the person I truly wanted to be.  

By March 2020, I realized that the world couldn’t give me anything. I had to go out and get it myself.  

Here is the part in-between. 

At the age of 20, I realized that I wanted to gain my own sense of independence, move away from home and live in Nottingham, a couple of hours away from my family. I told myself that this wouldn’t be easy, and that as a broke student who had just graduated with £0 to my name, I’d have to put in a little effort, but regardless, I remained optimistic. The world would give me something.  

After months of hearing the word ‘no’ by employers more times than I can count, I realized that my optimism was dwindling. No one wanted the fresh out of university student with enthusiasm and drive. And because no one wanted her, she simply just became the university student without…well…anything.  

Jobs that excited me no longer seemed worth applying for. A four-hour application for a one minute phone call that simply said “sorry, not this time,” if that chipped me away piece by piece every time. My self-worth crumbled with it, and I found myself clicking apply for anything that previously wasn’t something I would have even considered. And that is how I ended up working in a call centre.  

For the first few months, I was doing okay. My self-worth was at an all time low, but I was finally making money, and in turn, would eventually be earning enough to pay rent and no longer have to live off others. After but a few more months in the role, I hit rock bottom mentally. I had little motivation, but the motivation I did have was spent applying for other roles, that slightest hint of a spark in terms of optimism was still there, attempting to create something so much more tangible now that I had experience in a new work environment and yet…the spark was doused out a few months later when I realised that still…no one wanted me. 

I found myself crying during shifts, in front of an office of people. Found myself being sent home because I couldn’t control my breathing. Found myself being taken downstairs to calm down. And when I did get home, I’d stare at the walls, and wait for tomorrow to come around because I knew it would, whilst secretly praying that the evening would last forever, and I could remain in a mental purgatory for a while.  

On year three at that role, I was furloughed for five months.  

Those five months were some of the best of my life, I could breathe again, feel things again. And then I was requested to come back. The second the phone call arrived, I said “of course,” politely, before hanging up and crying for what seemed like hours. It was then that I realized that things don’t come for free. I needed to be curious, I needed to be fierce. I needed to do something about this. About…me. I needed to take control of my mental health. And so, I applied for my Masters Degree. 

The degree was a struggle, and a risk at that with little money to fund it, but I told myself that I needed to work hard and gain a higher education to remove myself from a terrible situation. Turns out, this was the best decision of my life. After all, sometimes a risk is worth everything. It can make or break you. 

In my year at university, I met an employee at WYWM online, and unknowingly, my life would be changed. 

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. 

My friend could see my struggle. She knew that I had the drive, the will power once upon a time, and yet nothing to put it into, noting to give it to. And that was why I was so mentally drained. And so, I created a profile on Potential, I undertook the aptitude tests, and suddenly, I felt that drive again, the drive to work up to something so incredible. Work FOR something incredible. That curiosity, that drive, that fierceness, it came back to me. 

Suddenly it was all I could think about – becoming part of WYWM. I recall sitting in a bar, my hand around a cold glass of beer, pondering what my future could be like at a place like that, and it brought joy to me, real, unapologetic joy. I hadn’t felt excitement like that since graduating back in 2017. There it was again, that spark, becoming something more, that optimism. That person was still there, she had simply been dormant.  

I wasn’t expecting to be chosen as a potential candidate, wasn’t expecting to be where I am now, and yet, even as I type this out, I feel completely at ease. I feel comfortable for the first time in a long time.  

The moment onboarding started I felt like I had found my people, my community, and I had been waiting to find that for a long time. They didn’t tell me no because I didn’t have experience, didn’t tell me ‘sorry, not this time’ because my CV wasn’t polished enough. They didn’t want my CV, they wanted drive, wanted potential. And thanks to this company, I’ve finally found that.  

After feeling like I was a failure, that I wasn’t capable of something more, this company told me that I was, and as a result, I have developed more in my three months here than I have for the three years in my previous role.  

I’m so grateful to Tom, and the team at WYWM for giving a burnout a chance. For giving a young person at rock-bottom mentally a hopeful future. An opportunity to climb back up. To get back up. 

The world doesn’t give you what you want, you have to go out and get it, strive for it.  

And for the first time in a long time, I am doing just that.  

So, you want my advice? Be curious, be fierce, be transparent.  Be you.  

It will all make sense soon enough. 

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