Young Women Lead - Journal #3

I didn’t want to go to the meeting in March. After a throwaway chat with my boyfriend when we were falling asleep one night that week, we suddenly realised I’d been depressed for the last three months and hadn’t even realised it. The idea of having to come and socialise with people a four-hour train journey away from my bed and my dog and my Netflix subscription felt like too big a mountain to climb that Friday. Which seemed like exactly the right reason to go. I faced my fear and did it anyway, and I’m so glad I did; my group gave me the exact boost I needed (as well as the three gin and tonics I had afterwards).

The March meeting was a great opportunity for us to check in with each other face-to-face (nothing is ever as good as face-to-face planning) and link up with the work of other groups where appropriate. Sometimes when you’re working away at home by yourself, despite the WhatsApp groups and Slack conversations, you can feel a bit mad and it’s so reassuring to be with everyone again.

I think March was the first meeting where it really sunk in that our report was going to be a real thing that could bring positive change if we fight hard enough. Speaking to the Scottish Parliament experts is always a healthy reminder that we can’t possibly know everything and you sort of feel the whole weight of them behind you, wanting you to succeed!

When I started the programme, I was concerned about the age gap between the oldest (me) members of the group and the youngest. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough shared experience there and that us older folks would come off seeming like we knew best about everything. But with the engagement work, the younger folk were our best possible asset because their experience of school was so recent, or ongoing. You sort of hope that things have changed in the *cough* thirteen *cough* years since you left school but sadly they haven’t.

I don’t feel like my leadership skills have improved all that much since I started this programme, not because of anything the programme has done wrong, but because I wasn’t expecting to be so busy this year. When I applied for YWL, I was just working away for the council and by the time I was accepted, I had a new job for an MSP and a mentorship with Penguin Random House. This was the last possible year I could have done it because of my age so I couldn’t have asked to defer and I’m a little sad I couldn’t throw myself into it as much as I would have done this time last year.

One more committee to go!

Lauren Aitchison