On the 18th of September 1997, it was probably a rainy, welsh dark day. The number one song on was Elton John’s “Candle in The Wind”, Ronaldo was celebrating his 21st birthday and I was welcomed into the world!
Today I am no longer a teenager, which feels scary, I still look 12, I feel 12 and I don’t feel anywhere near 20 years old. Turning 20 is a huge milestone for me, as it’s an age with I never imagined turning due to my past. I never talk about my past, my past mental health issues and my past thoughts and feelings, but today’s blog post is going to highlight my highs, and my lows in the last 20 years of my life.
A birthday should never feel weird, or sad, but somehow for me it does. I remember being this lost, lonely and hopeless 14 year old, I remember saying that I will never be 15 years old as I didn’t want to be alive but here I am, on my 20th birthday looking back at my past.
On a daily basis I get asked what I want to do in the future, and honestly I have no clue. I never imagined leaving school, I never imagined living past the age of 15 so I didn’t have a plan. Over the last 4 years I have studied everything from Business studies, public services, PE, science and psychology and counselling. Right now I have no clue on what I want as a career, I take everyday as it comes, I have hope and dreams but life may change.
Being trans, having mental health issues, being disowned, being bullied and being different has formed me into who I am today, although its been a struggle, its been worth the fight. Things can still be crappy, things can be amazing, I sometimes see no future for myself but other days I feel like I can conquer the world. In the words of my fellow friend H “Take one day at a time”!
In these short 20 years, I have managed to achieve some fantastic things and here’s a list of my top 20 achievements in my life (It was so hard to pick 20 its unreal!) –
- Getting my 1500m swimming badge – I started swimming at a very young age as I was a huge water baby, and my mum wanted me to be able to swim in case I got into trouble in the water when I was growing up. I got my swimming badge when I was 8 years old, I managed to swim 1500m in 1 hour and 45 minutes without taking a break, plus I was the youngest person there trying for it. After that I got a swimming path with Cwmbran Otters and I started to swim competitive. Although I no longer swim, I am still proud of this because I was determined to get my badge at such a young age.
- Getting into university – Education has never been a strong point for me, other than developing faster at English and Maths as a child that’s my only achievements. Going to university has been one of my highest achievements as I never once imagined getting here, I failed school, I barley passed college, but here I am studying a degree that I am interested in!
- Going to Buckingham Palace – It sounds so stupid, but earlier on this year I was invited to Buckingham Palace to present an award for Youth United. Getting the letter through the post inviting me was so surreal, I’m only 20 years old and I have achieved more than I ever imagined achieving.
- Starting Hormones – I have been waiting to start hormones for 6 years. I started hormones over a month ago now, but its been a huge achievement. I have fought, I have cried, I have given up but I still managed to get here. Maybe on my birthday next year Ill have some sort of beard?
- Meeting Prince Charles – I was 18 when I met HRH Prince Charles, I had my one hand in my pocket, my other hand was shaking his and my shirt was extremely creased because I have no clue on how to use an iron. To meet someone in the royal family and talk about trans rights and issues is an honour, he was so lovely, and he is my favourite royal family member by far!
- Becoming Pride Cyrmu’s Young Person Champion – I became Pride Cymru’s YPC in 2015 and ever since I have loved every minute of it. I have volunteered hundreds of hours, I have spoken in front of thousands of people, I have made friends and I am ensuring that LGBT+ young people across Wales are being heard. Its an overwhelming and exciting position to hold!
- Travelling the world – I am petrified of flying, it honestly scares the life out of me. But over the last few years I have travelled to an awful lot of places alone, and with friends. I have slept in a tent in Spain, stayed in a Hostel in Amsterdam and been to a live volcano in Lanzarote! – “Flying gets you to places you can never reach”
- Becoming more social – As a pre-teen and a teenager I was very anxious and I kept myself to myself. But recently I have come out of my nest, I go and see friends, I travel and I keep in the company of friends and family rather than myself.
- Being honest – I struggle to be honest with myself and those around me. When I am down I never tell those around me, I usually keep my own thoughts to myself until it breaks me. But recently I have learnt to cry over anything and everything. Since loosing my Nan and close friend I have had to be honest with myself and those around me otherwise I would have drove myself insane.
- Getting into the Welsh Athletic Finals – I will honestly say that I did not take part in the running, I cannot run to save my life. In school I was the only shot putter in my year group so I was in the Welsh Athletic Finals and I came third in the whole of Wales, which was pretty good.
- Helping others – Since 2012 I have used social media to help those who need it. I originally started to campaign for mental health rights and I started to help those in a similar situation as me, and then I started campaigning for the LGBT+ youth community and the transgender community, I love campaigning, I love being a part of the change.
- Passing my safe cycling test – In year 5 I was the first person to pass my safe cycling test, I worked hard to pass it and I did. As a well done I was elected for the Torfaen championships, where, I almost got ran over by a car which was ironic.
- Coming out – Again, this is so irrelevant but I’m proud of the fact that I came out, not only once but four times. Being myself, and being honest is a difficult thing, but I managed to do it and I am thankful for doing so!
- Recovering – Being indulged in self harm, binge eating, starving and suicidal thoughts and attempts sucks. I have scars which are physical and mental. I have good days and I have bad days. But recovering from some of the most hardest parts of my life has been a battle. I have been clean for 4 years now, but my recovery will never be over. I just need to keep an eye on my heath to ensure that I don’t head down that dark road again.
- Writing a book – roughly 2 years ago I wrote, and published a book. Being dyslexic sucks sometimes, but that was an amazing feeling!
- Being the 25th most influential LGBT+ person in Wales 2017 – The Pinc List was released a few weeks ago and by surprise I was number 25 on the list!, I don’t deserve to be on a list with such amazing, inspirational people, but I am glad that I am one of the only young people on there, as it goes to show that we are making a change, and we are determined to make the lives of our future generations better than our own.
- Moving away from home – When I first moved into halls last year it took me four weeks to unpack my stuff because I was determined to move back home. But a year on I haven’t been home. It’s scary, but I love being independent!
- Fundraising £300 for The Terrance Higgins Trust – In 2015 I had a close call with HIV so on World Aids Day last year I decided to shave off my hair for The Terrence Higgins Trust because they are an amazing charity who work with those who are affected with HIV & AIDS.
- Forgiving and forgetting – As I said earlier, I lost my nan and close friend in the last 12 months so I have learnt that life is way to short to hold grudges, so I have learnt to forgive and forget some memories which hurt, and upset me. I’m friends with those who I have fallen out with and I talk to those who bullied me. We never know when our lives our going to end. So we best get along with everybody until its too late!
- Being here today – I made it to 20 years old, which is an achievement in itself. Happy birthday to myself, here is to another 20 years!