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I would not be the Woman I am today without the three women who helped raise me

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I never understood this saying until recently. What I think it means is a child who is raised within a community will be exposed and raised to have different beliefs and learn more from different types of people with different experiences.

The wisdom of the people in the village will be imparted onto the child and thus the child will grow into I guess a more rounded human being. It also means a parent doesn't have to struggle alone. There will always be help.

I was not an easy child and I was not an easy teenager. I was not easy full stop. At school I was a model pupil. I was a Prefect, Sports Captain, got on well with my teachers was thought very highly of. At home I was the complete opposite. I talked back, slammed doors, played music at high volume. My sister would be called in to have chats with me as she was someone I looked up to. I did not appreciate my mum I definitely took her for granted. However, I saw how hard she worked and I did respect my mum which was why I tried hard at school and did what I could to make her proud and not make her look bad. I was undiagnosed autistic and my meltdowns at home were caused by the masking at school all day and pure exhaustion. I was too exhausted to be told what to do or be just nice because all my energy was spent trying to be the perfect student and not show bullies their words hurt.

She was a single mum from when I was about 10. She went out and got work. It was crap work but she cycled there everyday in any weather. My mum showed me resilience and strength and that with hard work you could achieve anything.

My mum was best friends with our neighbour Betty. She was my second mum who sadly passed a few years ago. Betty would look after me and my brother whenever my mum went into hospital or when one of us were sick and needed to stay off work. We were treated like family and always made to feel welcome at her home.

Betty's family was big and her daughter was close in age to me and my brother. We would go around for birthdays and her other daughter used to do my hair whilst I was at Uni to help me out. I would openly talk to Betty's family about my ambitions and no one ever laughed. They all helped or gave me an insight into their experiences.

My sister is 18 years older than me and was a very successful computer programmer. I looked up to her and still do. She is my future. She tells me how it is. The first time I went to her apartment in Fulham I was sold. I wanted to work hard be successful. But my sister imparted some very important words to me. Although her job paid extremely well she hated it. She only put up with it because that job allowed her to do amazing things and travel the world.

See I thought as most do because it is how we are taught at school. Good grades, good education, good job. Yes I did believe that. Hey I am autistic would you actually expect any less.

Well turns out it is way more complicated than that. Although I had good grades, an excellent work ethic I was always thwarted by good old office politics.

The first job I had I was sacked. The second I had I would have counsellings (minor disciplinaries) or be taken into a fridge and yelled at (they called it chiller chat) because none of the customers could hear in an industrial fridge. The third job I had I was on a final written for things like 'typing too loudly a response on an email after my manager had requested I drop everything to do her request and also my time keeping as I was travelling 140 miles a day up and down a busy motorway despite the fact I could work from home and was a top performer on paper'

The last job I had was going OK. Was well respected. Got on well with my all male team was happy and then someone new started and well I quit two years later. 1 year after being diagnosed autistic and my employer not understanding why after 5 years I needed reasonable adjustments despite the fact it was the 'letter of concern' I got a week after securing their quarterly bonus for them that had me pleading with a doctor to pursue the autism diagnosis to try and save my job.

See my point is. My big sis, Betty her family and my Mum all accepted me for me. They all taught me if you work hard enough doors will open. My sister taught me to follow my gut not the salary presented and to be more modest. Betty taught me to be a kind and good human being as she was honestly the kindest person I ever got the pleasure to meet and I do miss her dearly and think about her everyday. My mum though. I may not have appreciated her in my teens but I am everything now because of her.

So look at who you surround yourself with. If people are negative or slight you start to make distance. If people are supportive make the effort. I finally feel I am getting somewhere in my career. It may only be a cold calling job to some but I am treated well. I am respected and a few months a go the senior manager of my team asked me to apply for the Rising Stars programme where 12 employees have 6 areas of their skills enhanced and are given the chance to see and work on different projects within the business. I have never been asked to apply for something. It does not come with a pay increase but money is not my motivator being the best I can be is.

On Monday it was announced that I had been accepted onto the programme and I am so excited for it. My manager has been working with me for months now on managing sudden changes and will basically help me time manage my day. I grow in confidence all the time and enjoy my job and the people I work for and it finally feels like everything is coming together. I would not be reaping these rewards without my own hard work, resilience, self belief and ability to keep moving forward even when things get tough, when there is seemingly no hope and you have to search for the light. I have had to do that many times. I am still here.

I have also been the top performer of the department for the past 2 months exceeding the targets set for me which are the same for everyone else. What most people don't know other than my manager who keeps an eye on when I am clocking out and is working with me constantly to rectify this, is I will often stay past 5pm to finish off the last bits of admin when it is quiet and I can actually think. A bad day for me is not, not hitting target it is finishing at 6pm because something has thrown my day off. I have the attitude 'why leave it till tomorrow if you can get it done today?' I also end up hyperfocussing on the challenge I have set for myself and won't leave until it is done. Blessing and a curse that one as it means very long days.

My second job as an accountant compliments my main job because my main job is as a researcher and if you have ever had to reconcile a bank statement finding that penny can sometimes take a fair bit of research. The systems and shortcuts I use in my second job now help my first. Who knew the ctrl button held so much power? My manager at my second job can't believe how quickly I have picked it up and loves my logical thought process on things.

I am proud of who I am and where I have come from. I am true to myself and have a lot less burnouts and it is rare I have to work from home. When I do it is not a problem. It is nice to be treated like an adult and respected. My jobs past have often treated me like a child, not listened and discounted me, underestimated me and devalued my opinions. I don't want to be a manager, I just want to feel I have worked hard and made a difference. I know Betty would be proud of me. My mum tells me she is proud of me all the time and my big sis she loves me very much as I do her. She puts the effort into me even though she lives in New Zealand I hear from her more than I hear from people down the road.

(Betty is on the left, my mum on the right)



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