I’ve just finished listening to a podcast with Tim Ferriss and Arianna Huffington which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was full of inspiring stories, energy and positivity but there was one particular story that I know will stay with me forever.
Arianna spoke about how she grew up in Greece and at the age of 14 dreamt of going to Cambridge University in the UK. Nobody around her believed this to be possible – after all, normal girls from Greece don’t go to Cambridge! Everyone said that she should forget this dream, apart from one person, her mother.
Her mother, who clearly believed that anything was possible, replied: “OK, let’s find out how to make it happen.” She even took Arianna to visit Cambridge University, to see the buildings, breathe in the atmosphere and make it real. Needless to say, as many of you probably already know, Arianna went on to attend Cambridge and become president of the union; the first foreigner and third female to ever achieve this. And the rest is history.
What I took away from this story was that it took just one person to say yes, just one person to believe, just one person to encourage and the course of someone’s life was forever changed for the better.
I’m just about to start a volunteer role working with a child in care and I will carry this story with me as a constant reminder to believe in them. The role is called an Independent Visitor whereby you are matched with a child in a children’s home or in foster care and you become a friend to them. You take them out once a month to do something fun, listen to them if they want to talk and make sure their voice is heard in the social care system. You are often the only unpaid person in that child’s life, there because you care, not because it’s your job.
These children have often had horrific childhoods, suffering unimaginable neglect and abuse. Their expectations of this world are rock-bottom, they have little to no self-confidence and as for dreams, well they often just remain as dreams. Many grow up with deep psychological issues, often leading to chaotic adulthoods involving drug addiction and homelessness.
But what if someone believed in them? What if someone said “OK, let’s find out how to make it happen”. What if someone gave them hope that their dream could become a reality? That’s all it might take to change the course of their life for the better.
So, as I embark on this new adventure, I will remember Arianna’s story; I will remember to believe in them, I will remember to say ‘yes’ and I will remember to let them know that anything is possible.