We are at a really good place in our lives at the moment. I have three happy, confident and motivated teens, who are thriving and busy following their dreams. The teen years aren’t always the easiest to navigate and we have had our fair share of struggles. But I watch us chatting together, joking together, and loving each other and I realise homeschool and having the children close to me for so many years has done exactly what I hoped it would. It has given them all deep, deep roots. They are grounded and so very ready for the next part of their life journey. I thought I would reinterview them over the next couple of weeks, asking the very same questions I asked just under a year ago. They have changed so much, I was eager to hear their answers.
Today I am interviewing Charlotte, who has probably been the one who has struggled the most to control the huge feelings she has over everything. This year, especially the last six months, she has matured considerably, and has pretty much got a handle on those pesky emotions of hers, diverting them into doing good and making a difference in the world. I am so proud of the young woman she is becoming, all the more so for how much work and self-control it has taken to get there.
Describe how your school has changed over the past year?
I have a lot of freedom to not only pursue the subjects I want but to also pursue other interests.
Has this been a welcome change?
Yes, it has, although I have always had a lot of educational freedom.
What are your long term goals for your future?
How long have you got….(giggles) Ideally I would like to continue with exams and have my two completed books on Human Trafficking published. I would like to set up a charity to raise money to help teens and young people affected by modern day slavery.
I would like to raise awareness of depression and mental health issues in teens because I feel like the people who are in a position to help, don’t. Often teens are told they feel that way simply because they are teens and I disagree with this. This is particularly important to me because I have had friends who have suffered through mental health illnesses. I also think I could have gone that direction if the adults in my life hadn’t listened to my feelings and taken them seriously.
I’d like to travel, because I think my writing will improve the more experiences I have, in particular with different cultures.
I also have an Instagram account where I post my singing. Music, singing and acting is what I do to relax. It keeps me grounded and helps me to deal with the strong emotions I have (about everything)….
What is the next step in achieving these goals?
Well. I have just taken my English Literature IGCSE (today!) and have Law IGCSE coming up in the summer. Next year I hope to take IGCSEs in Classical Civilisation, Psychology, Latin and Maths. My aim is to achieve the IGCSE results needed to do my A levels from home and then do an Open University degree. This degree will give me the flexibility to travel and also time to focus on the issues that are important to me. It will also mean I can travel which will help me become a more well rounded writer.
During the next six months Mum is working with me (during what was my English Literature time) to self-publish. I will be organising a fundraiser for mine and Lillie’s 16th birthday, because I want to spend time that day, not just thinking about myself but also about those who may not even reach their sixteenth birthday.
In regards to the teen depression, I have an Instagram account which I run with one of my friends. This is a friend who has been through depression and come out the other side. This gives me the opportunity to build friendship and trust with other people who are struggling through this and the many other issues which come with depression. Through this trust I am able to give them advice and just be there for them when they feel no-one else is. Although this is a fairly new venture, already we have chatted with several young people, hopefully helping them to see that their life is worth more than what they believe.
Academically speaking, how are you ensuring you have what you need to follow your dreams?
Non-academically, what are you doing to help you achieve your dreams?
Writing, researching, reading, being active and available for any teens who need support.
Do you have a back up plan at all?
I have surprised myself by how much I have enjoyed learning law this year. This is one IGCSE I would like to maybe take at A Level. In fact, I have liked learning about criminal proceedings so much I would be very happy to work within the criminal legal system, possibly working with women who have been trafficked within the sex slavery industry.
Are you enjoying everything you are studying?
How do you motivate yourself to do the work, even when you don’t want to do it?
I know I have the life that some girls can only dream of. This motivates me to make the absolute most of every moment I have.
Do you set daily/weekly (or in the case of Charlotte hourly) goals?
Yes! But I set goals now as I go along (more likely to achieve them that way!). However, each day I wake up with the intention of treating everyone fairly, loving my friends and family with all that I have and keeping a smile on my face regardless of the type of day I am having.
What stops you just sitting around watching tv all day?
A good book! So, mum, if you could just get me some more books, that would be wonderful…. 🙂
Are your parents happy with the choices you have made for your future?
I think so…I hope so….You’d better be….(snigger)…Are you? Yes!
Do you find being a teenager hard? What specifically makes this age harder than previous ages?
I don’t find being a teenager hard in and of itself. I don’t think I’d be where I am today if my parents hadn’t taken my feelings and emotions seriously and helped me to deal with them in such a way that I am in control of my emotions rather than my emotions being in control of me. That said, I do find being a teen girl hard. There are so many things I would like to do, but as a teen girl I have to be particularly careful to ensure I am not preyed upon or taken for a fool. There seem to be so many dangers in the world, which teen girls seem to be most vulnerable to.
What has helped most in combating the effects of hormones?
I think mum taking my feelings and emotions seriously, and helping me to understand them even though I wasn’t able to comprehend them enough to put them into words (a rare thing for me!).
Listening to music and singing lots calms me down. Writing is very important for me as it gives me an opportunity to vomit up all my feelings onto paper, put them in a story and call it an essay! 🙂
I will also go for a long walk with my twin. She is a great listener and understands me completely.
Do you regularly set goals and not reach them?
No. My main goals tend to be character goals. I know that if I want to work with trafficked women and children I need to build a strong and unwavering character. This will enable me to work in hostile environments without crumpling.
What do you do when you are struggling to complete something?
Ask for help. Definitely. Ask for help.
Do you feel more self-motivated because your goals (exams/adult life/jobs etc) seem much closer now and you’re more aware that it will be more down to your hard work as to whether you succeed in your chosen path?
I would say so. As I’ve got older I think I’ve realised just how big the world is, and how many opportunities exist…and how lucky I am to have these opportunities within my grasp. I think….(there’s more, snort)….I’m really blessed to have all I have and to have the opportunities I have…and with these opportunities come a responsibility to make the most of every day of my life.
Do you look forward to your future with excitement? If so why or why not?
Yes I do, because I think God has big plans for me (I believe God has big plans for everyone). My future feels like a huge mystery that I have to unfold, and unravel, a journey that I have to travel, through ups and downs, and just trust that God’s plan for me is exactly where I am in that minute.
Is there anything you would change about your homeschool journey so far?
Maths. I don’t need to know what x is…he should just move on! 😉
Do you have anything you want to add?
Yes (of course). I think I want to say thank you to my parents, because I would not be who I am today without them and their unwavering belief in me. I also want other teens to know that God is always at work in your life. Even when things feel hard, and you feel like you are struggling with self-worth, God is there. He never struggles with your worth: to Him you are a human full to the brim of potential. You are His child and He loves you so much.