The conversations below are about our pride in overcoming and continuing to face obstacles on our journeys in life. We first had discussions in pairs and then we each fed back to the group about what the other person had said.
Jay’s really very proud of embracing how unique she is and just how far she has come in general, coming out of dark places that she has been in before to get to where she is today. I think it says that she’s extremely brave and that she’s in a better position than a lot of people that are probably like three times her age.
She’s been able to accept herself at such a young age and I think that’s extraordinary.
Amelia said she’s really proud of sticking up for herself and moving on. She’s not afraid to tell people to back off because she is who she is. She’s basically not afraid to say what she thinks about people and like in a sense she’s really brave for sticking up for herself. Because sometimes you can just ignore people but she’s actually standing up for herself and she’s fighting for her own rights.
I try my best to stand up for myself but it is really difficult because there are a lot of people who are so quick to judge in this world. Some people just don’t understand that we have feelings and we have emotions, and we actually feel them. Some people think we’re like mindless robots and they don’t really care how we feel.
I think she’s quite inspiring, because she’s gotten this far. She’s been through depression, and she’s still here and she’s still smiling and it’s really good to see that she’s OK.
There are two things that he is very proud of. The first is that when people are very negative towards him for his choices and beliefs and everything he’s gone through he will not take these on – he brushes them off. So he’s not taking on the weight of all those negative opinions and feelings and things people might say. That’s a really big thing. It’s become a lot easier since he’s felt more accepted, found more people that he can feel comfortable with and who he can relate to more. Spirituality has also played a really big part in that as well.
Secondly, was that he is now openly able to say quite easily that he is gay. What helped him to do that is that other people have noticed how brave he is. They have noticed his bravery and have really sort of commented on it and been really positive about that.
It made me think just how important it is to find that support, cause it can be quite isolating. He lost some people that were quite important to him but found new people, particularly in coming to the group. Now he’s able to make friends easily. And sometimes a week later he’ll even forget how he made these friends!
What stuck with me from his experience is that even though my circumstances were very different when I was in secondary school it was really difficult for me. I was a very quiet person. It wasn’t easy for me to make friends. Talking with him confirms how important it is to listen to people.
To actually listen to them and who they think they are. Really listen to what they want. I think even sometimes young people might think professionals’ opinions are better or that they know best, but actually no! Listening to a young person and what they want and what they believe is the most important thing.
Ze’s proud of kind of managing to go through life and do the things that are important in every day life. Getting out of bed when Ze needs to, maybe going to Sainsbury’s even though it’s a little bit further away than Tesco. And it’s the kind of small victories that in a way create a foundation that you can work off. It’s completely valid to be proud of anything really, even if other people might kind of think it’s not that big a deal.
It doesn’t matter how other people view the achievements you’ve made. It’s how important they are to you and that’s quite important to recognise. Ze was involved in raising money for the Terrance Higgins Trust. That’s a really good thing to do, trying to help other people. But it’s also important that Ze is trying to take care of hirself. It’s good that Ze can recognise that’s also important. So it’s kind of like not neglecting yourself.
Sometimes it can be easy to get lost in the possibilities of doing big grand things. It’s good to be idealistic about things sometimes and to think big about how you can help other people but you also need to be in a position to do it; you need to be able to look after yourself so you can achieve things. It’s good to kind of be aware of that.
Chris put so much time and such effort into getting everything on his records at school about his name and gender correct and trying so hard to get the correct pronouns used which is almost impossible with some people. He made things a bit easier for other trans people who might like follow him at his old school and hopefully at other schools as well. The ‘higher up people’ (in the Department of Education) he had to go to get these things changed were saying (to his school), ‘No you’ve got to listen to the student on this, you’ve got to do what they say’.
And hopefully other young people will hear about that as well and know that actually they can do something to get their gender changed on their records and get their pronouns used and get their correct name used and stuff like that. It’s just amazing that actually just sticking to your guns on this can actually get something changed. I gave up trying to get anything like that changed at my own school because I didn’t think it could happen. It’s wonderful knowing that actually if you do stick at it that you can actually get something changed.
His actions let other people know that just because they aren’t happy about something or they don’t want to change the way they run things, that doesn’t make a difference. It’s got to change. You can’t just do what’s easiest, you have to do what’s right. What’s worth having isn’t always easy to get. If you want something then you’ve actually got to try it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes.
You’ve got to work for it and you’ll get it in the end. When I went to secondary school I didn’t go in in year 7 and say ‘this is who I am, use these pronouns, do this, do that’, cause I didn’t know what I wanted at that stage. But I’m a lot more confident now, and I know when I go to College now that from the offset I can like say ‘Those are the wrong pronouns, these are the right ones’. Know what I’m not and know what I am, and do this from the outset. It’s little things like this that are going to make my life a bit better.
When reflecting on what it had been like to have this discussion as a group, one of us reflected on about the importance of being proud of ourselves for what we have been through and what we have overcome. He said, ‘I think its good for us to be able to talk about what we’re proud.
Even though we weren’t saying it in the wider group and we were saying it in our pairs, there’s this whole kind of social thing where people aren’t really encouraged to talk about what they’re proud of in themselves. I think its good to acknowledge stuff that we are proud of cause everybody has done stuff that they are proud of.
Especially what we have been feeding back. We have good reasons to be proud of ourselves. I think people need to be encouraged more to acknowledge that they’re proud of stuff they’ve done and that they’re proud of themselves. But like, especially us as a demographic who are often told like we shouldn’t be proud of who we are or what we’ve done’.