If you told me 6 months ago that I’d be writing my own blog, working with one of Birmingham’s most innovative youth engagement organisations and helping to collaborate on creative projects in and around Birmingham, my reaction probably would have been one of the following. Firstly”I couldn’t possibly do that’.Or,” How can I get involved?” I’m so glad it seems that I went with the latter choice all along. Now, being a part of Lyfeproof has first and foremost affirmed the passion I have for writing. But beyond the blogs I craft, it has given me so much more. I’ve had first-hand experience in a real workplace( which for a 17-year-old, is quite a big deal). I’ve been given an insight into the logistics of managing a successful business and perhaps most importantly, as Lyfeproof aims to do, I have been made to feel a lot more ‘life ready’.
On a journey to becoming Tiah Shepherd: the writer
Since entering my first short story contest at the tender age of 7, I’ve been hooked by words and more importantly the power they harness. The ability that a piece of writing has to evoke a message, spark a thought and leave an impact on someone else lies at the heart of my fascination with writing. Until I started working with Lyfeproof, it was a fascination I rarely shared, partly because I didn’t think anyone would want to listen. Beyond that though, I just didn’t know or wasn’t aware of how I could voice it. Lyfeproof gave me that voice- a platform from which I was able to immerse myself in a whole new world: blogging.
To an extent, I was thrown in at the deep end, without armbands too. I didn’t drown though. With the guidance and expertise of Lyfeproof, I began to navigate the ins and outs of how to write a successful blog. Quickly I came to realise, that there is a lot more behind the words that appear on the final webpage. In the space of a few months, I’d spoken out on the issues I believed deserved a voice, I’d put my thoughts and my opinions out there- albeit somewhat daunting. In the process, writing became both a vehicle for passionate expression as well as a means of inward self-reflection. Often, I’d read or heard people speaking about how writing or rather the writing process is a deeply transformative one, not just for a writer but also the person. Half a year later, I’d happily testify to that and be one of those people. Admittedly, I’ve learnt that I’m ,if anything ,more self-critical than I thought I was. But I’ve also realized where I’ve been missing things, not scoping out the finer details. By no means am I claiming that I’m a changed person-this isn’t one of those turning point life epiphanies. Nothing of the kind. But maybe it comes close. Close in the sense that it has opened my eyes up to who I am in my work and who I perhaps want to be. I’m quite sure that all good writers know who they are and what they want their work to say, but great writers didn’t always know this, they evolve and even then there’s always room to change.
What work experience really looks like…
Most of us at some point have probably had to find work experience because our school has told us it’s compulsory. I don’t speak from experience here, but for many, it’s a quick dash to a local charity shop or a phone call to your best friend’s brother who happens to own a dentist surgery. Personally, the whole concept of work experience is pretty self-explanatory. You experience the real workplace, in an area that may well end up being your calling in life, but if not, at least you can cross that one of a very long list. It was only in an attempt to find such a work placement or volunteering position, that I stumbled across a request for bloggers and writers while scrolling through Doit.org. In a tentative computer click, I registered my interest in the post. A few days later, my inbox told me that Lyfeproof wanted to see a piece of my work and have me come for an ‘interview’(I say this loosely because the team were so incredibly lovely I ended up forgetting about that part). There was no major interrogation, no attempts to catch out the incredibly nervous 16-year old writer. Instead, I was greeted by a diverse office of people, all sharing their journeys that somehow lead to Lyfeproof- and a diverse office it most certaintly is. Throughout my time at Lyfeproof, I’ve been introduced to performers, writers, graphic designers, event organisers and animators -to name a few. You never really know who’s going to walk through the door and honestly, I love that. For me, that’s what a real workplace is all about. Of course, there are periods where deadlines need to be met, where Lyfeproof is organising countless events such as creative networking and it’s fairly hectic, to say the least. But, my workplace experience at Lyfeproof has been characterised by meeting new people, networking and quite frankly being ready to introduce myself to the next exciting person that happens to come in.
There are always new people to meet
If my friends and family had to describe me they would probably say that I have a tendency to be quite introverted -when I want to that is. As someone considering a career in writing, journalism and reporting, having the skills to regularly encounter, approach and work with new people is near to a must on the job spec. For me, this was one of those times where my shyness in other situations somehow now didn’t really exist. I wanted to meet people. I wanted to talk to anyone and everyone. I wanted to voice the concerns, thoughts and ideas that were my own and my generations. As you can see, I had a lot of very big ambitions, which with Lyfeproof I’ve somehow managed to fulfil for the most part. During a three month period, I happened to be involved with an NCS social action project aiming to break down misconceptions about the homeless and raise awareness for the growing issue. We were looking for people, who have witnessed and really witnessed what living on the streets means. I also wanted to find out what some of the biggest barriers are that stand in our way to solving this crisis. I put this to Lyfeproof and through them made contact with Angela Hunt, the founder of Sunday Breakfast Club. I’d now done my first interview as it were and used this to form the basis of one of my personal favourite pieces to write. In addition to this, Angela was kind enough to take part in our sleep out event and gave enlightening talks which tackled the reality of homelessness today. These were the kinds of people I’d been hoping to meet and the kinds of stories I was adamant needed telling. Personally, this is what writing is all about and with Lyfeproof, I’ve been able to do just that and more.
Maybe I can survive in the real world?
People always tell you that as a teenager or young adult,, you’ve got it pretty good. We don’t have to have a job, we don’t have to pay the bills and we essentially don’t have to face up to the harsh realities of this real world. Sometimes it is easy to feel like you’re living in what I can only describe as a bubble. Well, in a matter of minutes, Lyfeproof very much so popped that bubble. But I don’t resent them for it-I’m extremely grateful. I haven’t learnt how to become a better writer, I have learnt how to become a better writer that and take that skill and passion into as I keep coming back to the real world. Though attempts are made, education doesn’t really prepare you for much beyond the restraints of a textbook or a course syllabus- and if it does, how much really and I mean really went in? Lyfeproof, has in bits and pieces, shared with me invaluable advice and guidance from: exploring career options, maintaining a healthy mind and understanding how business operates. 6 months later, I won’t deny that I’m still very much scared of what will or won’t happen in the next few years. But Lyfeproof has reassured me that this often feared uncertainty is both normal and actually kind of exciting. More so, with the right knowledge, awareness and support, this real world just may not be as bad as everyone makes out.
It’s quite strange to think that not long ago that I didn’t even know who Lyfeproof were, what they did and how I could fit into the amazing work they do. I was just a Year 12 student, who in her 16 years, had developed somewhat of an affinity towards writing. Now, I’m still a Year 12 student, with the same love of writing, except what I’ve learnt in my time at Lyfeproof, I hope has changed me completely- and I’m 17 as well. As I continue my time at Lyfeproof, growing as both a writer and young adult, I have come to realise that I’m not just getting a period of work experience: I’m getting life experience.
Written by Tiah Shepherd
Lyfeproof – Finding creative ways to get young people life ready. Particularly through mind-set. We explain things that help you move forward in life or prevent negative outcomes. We create experiences and invite people to join. We share knowledge across sports, arts, sciences, financial literacy, employability mental health & wellbeing.
Our Vision: Imagine a world where people understand their brains enough to make better decisions, then imagine fully understanding money to never be at its mercy; now thread both with individual and collective purpose so that poverty and disadvantage can be overcome for generations to come.
Our Mission: Lyfeproof works to help young people towards well being. We aim to do this by what you see (online experiences with us), or what you feel (our events, workshops or programmes).
Our Intuition: We believe in sharing things that are proven to work for different people.
If you care enough to share and would like to blog for Lyfeproof, please email info@Lyfeproof.co.uk, using “I want to Blog for Lyfeproof” as the subject header. We appreciate you all.