I was so nervous, but so excited to meet my little sister at launch day!
I was delighted to be matched with Lottie, I remembered her from a role model relay event and secretly hoped it would be her!
When we first met I couldn’t believe how similar she and ‘teenage-me’ were! Our interests and aspirations were very aligned (mainly singing, dancing and acting!)
Jane and Sarra said there’s ‘witchcraftery’ in the matching process and we discovered that’s absolutely true!
Lottie and I clicked immediately, established rapport very early on and got to know each other pretty well. There was never a quiet moment as Lottie always had a lot to say, our sessions always flew by so quickly.
At the beginning she worried so much about what others thought of her, she was anxious and actually suffered with panic attacks which she found really frightening. We spent a lot of time talking about these, focusing on coping mechanisms and her resilience. The breakthrough came when she learnt these were not just her problem, that they are a known ‘thing’ and are actually, sadly quite common. She was willing for me to share this with the class of 2022 because she said it might help somebody else who was listening, to know they aren’t alone.
The mindfulness session we shared had a big impact on Lottie. The music used during a meditation was the same as a gym routine she’d performed as a child. It reminded her of the power she felt when she won the competition. I felt it was important for her to hang on to that feeling, harness the power she felt and use it whenever she doubted herself, because she can achieve amazing things!
Another key moment was from the ‘Girl Code’ session when Lottie commented how she thought it was important to ‘lift’ other girls up rather than be their competition. I just thought that awareness at 14 is incredible! She’s so generous and kind, her friends are lucky to have her.
It’s honestly been an amazing 12 months, and what a privilege to watch Lottie grow. She is a different girl to the one I met a year ago.
She’s learnt to step back and choose how she feels about what people think. She’s much less reactionary and more considered in her responses. The best news is that those panic attacks have reduced massively, which just shows how much stronger she has become.
Lottie is an absolute star, I have no doubt she will be successful in whatever she choses to do. She’s recently taken up aerial acrobatics, so my message to her was ‘Fly high Lottie, never forget you are capable of amazing things’.
She wrote a note to me at the end of our time together which said:
“Words cannot explain how much you’ve helped me over the past year, I’m such a different girl because of you.
You’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know. I’ll never forget you.”
I can’t think of anything more powerful to inspire women and girls to join the Big Sister programme.
This experience has changed my focus too. I’m delighted to have secured a new role as an Academic Mentor, so big thanks to ‘Girls Out Loud’ who have given me the boost I needed. I can’t wait to get started!