There is a young woman in my life who I am truly blessed and honoured to know. She inspires me no end and leaves me standing in awe of her life’s accomplishments. This young woman is my 17 year old cousin, Robyn Dooley.
Robyn left school last year and is currently working in Debenhams as a Sales Assistant. Robyn is also an elected Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) for Knowsley; a Fellow for the yearlong World Merit Fellowship Programme (Robyn will spend 2 weeks touring the UK, 11 months working in her community doing social action, then 2 weeks in Washington DC and New York); a Knowsley Young Advisor and Social Media
Associate for Young Advisors’ social media platform RoundUp (Robyn promotes up-and-coming campaigns for Young Advisors); a Young Leader for the soon-to-be national programme Big Love Little Sista; and a Researcher for the national project Talent Match, which helps to find work for those who are unemployed and face severe barriers to gaining work or education.
Robyn hasn’t been to university yet. In fact, she only has GCSE’s. She is a talented, strong, focused, ambitious young woman who wants to see, and bring about positive change in this world.
Two years ago, Robyn was suffering with an eating disorder, yet seeing her today she is thriving and living with absolute purpose and confidence.
Robyn’s journey fascinates me and I want her to share her story with you. So, here is Robyn, in all her grace and vulnerability and boldness:
What do you think was the catalyst for your journey beginning? Was it your recovery from having an eating disorder?
(R) I definitely think my recovery has played a massive part with where I’m at today, though I have always, since I was in primary school, been keen to get involved in creating positive changes. So I know the journey I am currently on is one I have been thriving for.
I was in a pretty big rut this time 2 years ago, battling with depression and beginning my recovery from Anorexia. I was completely numb and, quite frankly, I was disappointed when I’d wake up of a morning, which is pretty sad considering I was a young teenage girl close to finishing my final years in secondary school, entering the exciting world of responsibilities and parties, and I had a pretty good group of friends around me, not to mention my family.
Since then, I have attended numerous therapy sessions, received an unbelievable amount of support from the people around me, and I’ve become much more aware of my mental state and myself. This has allowed me to reflect and focus on what I actually find enjoyment in. I also hope to utilise my negative experience of suffering with a mental health illness and use it as a way to raise awareness and help remove stigma,
but also help to improve the services available to young people.
What have been your greatest accomplishments and experiences so far?
(R) Youth Parliament has offered so many opportunities that I could only ever dream of having; as part of Youth Parliament we carry out the biggest youth consultation in the UK; Make Your Mark, which highlights the top 10 current issues amongst young people. Throughout the course of two months we go out to the young people in our communities and ask them what issue, out of the ten, mostly affects them. From this, we then narrow down the top 5 issues that were raised nationally, which we then bring to the House of Commons for all MYP’s to debate and vote on what we believe should be our next annual campaign to carry through nationally. To be in a room filled with young people who share the same desires and creating positive social impact to benefit those back home in our communities, and sat on the famous green benches is undoubtedly one of the best experiences.
Being selected to be part of the World Merit Fellowship Programme is definitely one of, if not the best, accomplishments. July this year, I began my yearlong journey to break down barriers and rise beyond boarders alongside 22 change makers from across the globe, from Brazil to New Zealand, the Philippines to Italy. In just 13 days of our time in the UK, we managed to form bonds so strong and connections so deep, it was inevitably the most intense and overwhelming experience I’ve had to date.
My decision to agree to begin my recovery is an accomplishment in itself, if I had not decided to do it when I did, I would hate to think about where I would be right now. This is what has allowed me to go on to do so many fulfilling things, and though I am not fully recovered I have never enjoyed my life as I am right now. That’s something I thought 2 years ago I’d be incapable of achieving.
What will the next year entail?
(R) I think this year will be very experimental and exciting. In terms of World Merit, I will be continuing to develop a project with my team to raise awareness of Gender Inequality; we are focusing on the stigma between men and women and common phrases. Throughout the next few months we will be planning and holding virtual meetings, which may well be a challenge but that’s the point, and then July 2015 we will be presenting our final idea to global leaders throughout the two weeks in New York and Washington DC.
In terms of Youth Parliament, I will be stepping down in February however up until then I will be going to the House of Commons to debate this year’s top 5 issues amongst young people across the UK, which we as MYP’s vote on the top 2 for our annual campaign. I’ll also, continue to be involved in other bits!
As for Big Love Little Sista, we are hoping to expand and go out to London this year and then hopefully to India to hold the projects.
I’ll be turning 18 this year so I think some big changes will be happening, whether that be moving out or travelling alone, I’m not too sure yet. But I’m seriously excited for what 2015 has to offer.
What are your long-term goals?
(R) I’m trying to avoid setting myself any goals, I know aspects of what my purpose is and I want to continue growing on that.
I often ask when will I consider myself successful. It’s a word which can be interpreted many different ways; some measure their success by the amount they have in their bank account, some consider success to be about raising a family, owning a business or just by getting out of bed to go to work. It’s different for everyone and I’m still looking for my personal definition.
But to answer your question, my long-term goal is to be successful.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far?
(R) ‘If not you, then who? If not here, then where? If not now, then when?’
If there was one piece of advice you would give to anybody what would it be?
(R) The global currency is trust. Although it’s not easily earned and vulnerability is not easily shared, I have learnt that when we do, we truly realise the power of people, the truth in the world, the beauty of difference and the reality of the same.
So my advice to you is to trust in yourself and other people. Be open and listen. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability.