The Class clown.
Every school had a class clown, that annoying twat that was always causing trouble, disrupting every lesson, I mean everybody gets in trouble or has a little laugh with their mates in class from time to time, but I’m talking about that horrible person…
The type of teenager walking into the school gates with a cigarette in their mouth, blowing the second hand smoke all over the pupils who decide they don’t need to ‘be cool’ by smoking, the one with a foul mouth who talks to anyone who isn’t in their ‘gang’ like shit & speaks to the teachers even worse – as if it’s their fault that person needs an education, rather than seeing the teachers as people who want to genuinely want to help – because let’s face it, whose putting up with that kind of crap for a teacher’s salary?
This kind of teenager was the worse in school, everybody knew of them, how could they not? Screaming, swearing, drinking, staying out all night, getting involved in bad things at such a young age. Arrested, fighting, shoplifting, partying, breaking laws in & outside of school…
Constant excluding from school, arguing with parents, not even going home sometimes – good parents too! Real good parents, that sat up worried sick at home about what I’d got up to now!
Yeah, that’s right! That horrible teenager, that was me!
Rewind to 15 years ago, I’d just left primary school where I spent every day in top class, star of the week, won every mini quiz, scored the highest score on every exam, I even did extra homework! I loved writing, I always had a passion to help too, so I’d usually find a story from that week, whether it be something I overheard or got told & I’d make that person’s story into a fairy tale…
I loved it! I loved school, I spent most of my time outside of school writing & doing extra work, I couldn’t wait for secondary school! I couldn’t wait to meet even more kids, share my stories with them, learn even more & become a famous author…
Oh, how very wrong I was! I soon learnt that no one gave a shit about me or my writing in this school…
Now fast forward to 6 months into secondary school, there I am stood outside the local newsagents with my lunch money waiting for one of my older friends to get me some cigarettes before we ditch school off for the day & head into town – we heard some older kids from the next school on are taking the day off & get served for alcohol!
Sure, like I said at the beginning, surely most kids & teenagers try anything once at school! Not me! I never stopped! In fact, I got worse, from that day on, very rarely did I even attend school, never mind a lesson! Of course, I found the scummy kids to hang around with because nobody with half a brain cell was doing this every day!
By year 9, I’d be arrested multiple times, excluded almost every week – usually for verbal & slightly physical violence towards the teachers, one time for even brought cannabis into the school!
Been arrested & excluded didn’t bother me though, it only made me worse, I found it funny! I didn’t care if I wasn’t aloud to school, I’d go meet the older kids in town – drink & cause trouble there instead!
Eventually, one day my parents took me into school for the ‘back to school’ meeting, this is basically life or death for parents – where their kid has been excluded too much, the school basically wants a bloody good reason why they should be allowed back in!
My parents are great! Always was! As much as they are some of my best friends now, back then, I was even a little bitch to them! They couldn’t tell me what to do, if they gave me no money – I would steal my alcohol for the weekend, if they grounded me – I’d break out of the back window & run off, they’d be lucky if I even came back for a few days.
It slowly came to end all this when we went to that back-to-school meeting…
Teacher: So, Kayleigh, tell us what’s changed over the summer? Why should we let you back? And what changes will you make in your schooling?
Me (shouting): I DON’T WANT TO COME BACK, I DON’T LIKE YOU OR ANYBODY HERE. F*CK OFF!
And that was it, the school lost their shit! They refused to have me back! My parents lost their shit, they told me I wouldn’t be getting any pocket money anymore, they wouldn’t be paying for my bad drinking habits & if I decided to go steal they would call the police themselves, they gave me the silent treatment for quite sometime. Mum stopped making me meals everyday she would tell me ‘If you’re old enough not to have education, you’re old enough to make your own food’.
The school soon put a restraining order on me so I wasn’t aloud with a certain distance of the entire school – that way I couldn’t cause disruption to any other pupils, naturally my friends at school slowly faded out, they all started doing better, they started getting new hobbies, they had money to go for nice meals on a weekend, they started to fill in their college & university applications – I saw it all over social media, I’d comment & barely ever get a reply.
I’d turn up the park in town where the older kids drank, but slowly they started faded out, some went to prison, some moved away, some I don’t even know, in fact I dread to think!
Life got lonely & boring, I started worrying! What was I going to do with my life! My drinking slowly stopped because I had no money & no friends to drink with, by the time the school had the prom, not only did the school decide I wasn’t welcome but the students also – deep down I knew that the people pretending to still be my friends to keep me happy had probably also voted me out!
I started doing jobs around the house for pocket money, but had no one to spend it with so I just put it in my drawer to save, I started spending my days reading old journals & stories written by myself – I loved reading my old work, it inspired me! Made me laugh, made me want to be a writer again! I started writing again! I started writing my own book, I didn’t even know what the book was going to be on or what I’d do with it but I loved it!
My Friday nights started been spent watching a film with my parents, having a Chinese & chilling! My parents slowly saw a change, they wanted to help me! They knew the time was right, I guess…
We went to connections, an organisation helping young adults get into education…
Connection’s worker: So, what do you have a passion for?
Connection’s Worker: Could you be more specific? What do you want to do with your writing? Receptionist maybe?
Me: No, I want to write stories, articles, blogs and I want people to feel good after reading them! I want to be a real writer!
Connections Worker: (giggles!) I mean, we need to be realistic Sweetie, you have no qualifications, you didn’t sit an exam, you didn’t finish school. We can look at an apprenticeship. How about hairdressing? That’s creative, you can help people look better, therefore feel better?
I got shot down! Although she did have a point! Who was I to pick what I wanted to do after my past?
I took the hairdressing apprenticeship, three weeks into it, I hated it! I loved getting paid at the end of the week, I even liked getting up on a morning & having a coffee before work like a real adult but I didn’t like my job, it was boring spending most days put rollers in old ladies’ hair who did nothing but complain at me!
I spoke to my college tutor, I told her what was happening, how I didn’t want to do it, wanted something more fun, she told me to quit & go work for her! She had her own salon where she could train me while I worked! The shop specialised in colouring hair – it sounded fun! I went & I loved it! I started earning more money, more clients & eventually my friends got back in touch properly – they saw me doing me well, they saw that I wouldn’t be a negative impact on their life anymore.
Before I knew it, I was working 6 days a week, I LOVED work! I spent most evenings going out for meals & drinks, days off in a theme park or shopping because I knew whatever I spent, I would make back the next week!
Life was good! It was nothing like my old teenage one, the drinking was enjoyable & controlled! My money & belongings were my own & I was known for my hairdressing skills rather than my bad behaviour, don’t get me wrong, I was still the loudest person in the room but now I was a person that people actually wanted to be around!
My past was never going to let me leave that easy though! Without writing a whole book of my life story on here, the past came back to bite!
One day, I was at work just like any other, when I suffered my first panic attack, that led to many more problems…
Once I knew I had anxiety, instead of trying to accept it, deal with it or try help it, I went against it. I still worked, but I went out more, I covered it up. I didn’t want everybody to deal with more of what I thought was my bullshit.
I wasn’t that shitty teenager anymore, people didn’t need to worry, I was the happy, positive person that everyone wanted to be around & have their hair dome by – I wasn’t prepared to let that change.
Anxiety, however had different plans for me…
6 months after my first panic attack, I’d had a good 10 more, I’d lost my job & I’d become bed bound, I was convinced I was ill but not anxious! Anxiety was a mental health condition & I wasn’t mental!
I realised that covering it up & pretending it wasn’t there didn’t work, so instead I would hide, I would stay in bed until I felt better, I didn’t need any money here, or any company, I had my journal, I journaled every day, continued to write my book that was now on the 4th genre & edit since starting it. I found myself planning events, days out, different career paths, health plans etc but the next day would arrive & I wouldn’t get up, I wouldn’t do anything! I had no motivation!
If you haven’t already guessed it, the anxiety soon turned into depression, I was back in a lonely dark place.
It got to the point where I was scared to journal! I didn’t want to see my dark thoughts on paper, but I also didn’t want to be stuck in bed for the rest of my life, I started reading a few self-help books on anxiety & depression, see what all the fuss was about!
By the end of the first chapter of the first book, I found myself in floods in tears, every symptom matched mine! The doctors were right! I had anxiety & mild depression!
I remember going downstairs to cry to my parents, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror – I looked like shit!
The next day I got up, transferred some money from my savings, ordered lots of face masks, bubble bath, hair colour etc, I was going to have a makeover!
Along with that order, I ordered lots more self-help books, I related to every single one, I used the techniques they taught me, I started journaling about them! I used my journal for my own tailored self-help tips. I slowly started going back out to see friends, I was honest, I told them I wasn’t ‘well’ at the moment – I wasn’t!
Some days were better than others, but I slowly (without even realising) distracted myself with positive things & people.
I got myself a job as a barber, I paid myself onto self-help courses & even started telling people about my writing – that was something that was always private (I was too conscious of what people would think of me to share it).
The more I became myself, the happier I became. The happier I became, the less I cared what people thought of me.
I was soon glowing again, the difference this time, I had my education, I was not only qualified in a NVQ Level 2 in mental health but I had done a course in men’s mental health & used that in the barbershop, I eventually started doing some volunteer work in mental health, I saw the impact it had on people’s live & the smiles, positivity & motivation was infectious!
I carried on with more training courses, volunteering in many different mental health charities, I started my own self-help blog for people all over the world to read. I chatted with strangers & made their day a little brighter! I kept up with my own personal self-help techniques & made them part of my daily routine, I still had bad days, I probably always will, just like everyone else, but this change was a different one! It was permanent, I not only helped myself, but I educated myself, I learnt about myself, I learnt how to improve & maintain my my mental health. Then I realised this is what I’d always wanted to do, I spent a lot of time, in the wrong places, with the wrong people. I wanted to share my education, tips & techniques with everybody else… That’s when The Brighter Diaries was born!
Even when the world came to stop in 2020 & we were put into lockdown – I didn’t stop! I worked my butt off & came out of it the following year with a successful website, that I also build into a business, completely on my own, I qualified as a wellness coach, I started my own wellbeing groups through my business & guess what… I finished that bloody book!!
I couldn’t be happier, prouder or feel any more motivated by my own story! I don’t even care if I sound big headed because I have just been offered the job of my dreams, I’m quitting the job I was once told I would only ever be able to do to become a fulltime wellbeing mentor…
Not only did I use my writing to make people feel good, I made a career out of it! I f*cking did it! Now I’m on a journey to get my book published & make my business even bigger to continue helping even more people & to wake up to that every morning, excites me!
I know I always say it but…
WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER!