The Young Women’s Leadership Program experience

The Young Women‘s Leadership Program (YWLP) booklet ‘Journey to Leadership’ was officially launched this week. This sees the culmination of 6 months on hard work, laughter and tears.  I was lucky to be one of the girls blessed with the honour of speaking during the night.  What follows is the speech I provided.

My experience in the YWLP program has been challenging. Before even registering for the program, I had been considering a career change – and had already taken a step back from being a Project Manager in order to do a bit of soul searching after suffering from burn out.  Although to be honest I wasn’t doing much searching – I wasn’t doing much of anything apart from working and paying the bills.

It’s at this point that I need to send a really big thankyou to Ambreen – my work colleague, class mate and friend – along with her Mum.  If it hadn’t been for Mrs Beg, then we both wouldn’t be here, and if it wasn’t for Ambreen, I wouldn’t have known about the YWLP.  I had also initially thought I was ‘too old’ to join, but thanks to some coercion from Ambreen, I contacted Alicia to enquire about joining, and she welcomed me with open arms.

Anyway, a couple of weeks before the program commenced my Nan passed away.  This was after the discovery of a 7cm tumor in her throat just before Christmas 2009, of which was a huge shock.  She had recovered from a battle with Lymphoma a few years earlier, and had bounced back from that with a new lease on life.  Her decline was rapid and she unfortunately she suffered a lot.  As a small family, we were not ready for what was to come.  She passed away in her home, looking out into the nearby trees and paddocks at the cockatoos and horses, finally reunited with Grandad.  To see her released from her cage was a relief but it was still a shock to the system.  She was one of the most beautiful people in the world, she never had a bad word to say about anyone, treasured all life, and was incredibly open-minded.  I know I could talk to her about anything.  No longer having her in the world – the loss seemed too much to bare.

As life goes on for those left behind, the day to day routine continued as best as it could, and then the YWLP commenced.  I must admit that I wasn’t in the right state of mind to meet new people and certainly wasn’t prepared for the workshops on life analysis. So to be confronted in the first few workshops with 25 strangers, and various tasks such as questioning our personal values, dreams and goals – it was the last thing I wanted to be doing.  The climax came in the workshop about discovering our ‘Passions’, where we had to determine and discuss what we were passionate about.  When I could not identify anything – I was so incredibly upset and disappointed with myself I just wanted to chuck it all in.  Of course, what I realize now is that I was going through the natural grieving process, and that I was struggling with a relapse in my depression.

Thankfully, as the end of the program nears, I can gratefully say that I have now realised what it is that I truly value in life, and have ‘re-discovered’ my passions, as well as a few new ones. In fact one of my passions had always been writing – of which I had almost forgotten about – and what more could I have asked for then to have taken part in the creation of our booklet ‘Journey to Leadership.’

This brings me to what I think has been one of the most important things about the YWLP.  The YWLP has provided me with a safe, trusting and supportive environment in which I could embark and continue on a life changing journey, thanks to my fellow class members and of course, Alicia.  This has resulted in the strengthening of, and the creation of some very special friendships.

On another note, it has been due to the opportunities offered via the program, and the ‘soul-searching challenges’ we needed to undertake, that I do actually find myself happy.  It is a strange feeling, and I do have to pinch myself occasionally, as I have gone through most of my life telling myself that ‘I just want to be happy’, and it has been through this program, where I finally focused on other things…well…it has brought me what I had been looking for all of this time.  Indeed, it’s like a shroud has been lifted and I can see a whole new world.

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