When I was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010, a 6 hour operation 5 days before Christmas day left me with no occupation, no money and no self-confidence to get back into work. I developed epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder and the thought of facing a working day, surrounded by people, filled me with dread.
Fast forward 6 years, and I had recovered enough to get back on my feet. I had become an experienced career coach, running my own business, and I was working on an amazing career development project with Chwarae Teg, a project focusing on gender equality throughout Wales.
At the start of 2017, life threw me another unexpected curve ball, and I faced yet another operation to remove the brain tumour that had slowly grown back. This time my income and job was stable and the support I received from my colleagues was extraordinary however I knew I needed to take steps to ensure that my confidence was not destroyed as it had been before.
Three days after my operation I set to work on a plan to ensure kept my self-esteem strong. I gave myself a goal to raise £1000 for the Brain Tumour Charity. I set up a JustGiving page, and set to work promoting my story to build awareness and donations. It took a few weeks to reach the target and I was overjoyed and grateful I reached my target. But more than that, the fact I had been engaging in a positive project had kept me from spending time getting anxious about my operation. My self-esteem had remained strong and was even boosted from feeling I was doing something good for others.
In times of difficulty, charitable acts can make a positive difference to our self-esteem and our wellness. They can make us more employable too.
Being part of something positive is great for our confidence. Being actively involved in a specific campaign or with the everyday running’s of charitable organisation encourages us to work as part of a team, it keeps our mind goal orientated and allows us to build pride in ourselves and what we can achieve.
There are different ways you can get involved in supporting charities. You can set up a campaign to raise funds like I did, and this will have massive benefits to your mood and emotions. Many of the benefits are also renowned for looking good on a CV, it will give you experiences that can be talked about at interview or to get a promotion.
• Your current skills can be strengthened or you could learn new ones
• Increased skills translate into professional experience
• Learning new skills shows current and future employers that you enjoy learning
• Social responsibility is important to organisation’s and the time you give will be viewed positively
• Volunteering shows you can be dedicated to a job role and those you work with can act as references
• It can allow you try out different careers
If you’re not sure what charity to work with pick one that works in an area you are passionate about. For me, I wanted to help others who faced the same challenges, but for you it may be walking dogs at the local shelter, reading to youngsters in schools, or supporting in a local charity shop. Whatever you choose make sure it’s something you are excited about. You will be doing it for free so it has to inspire you.
My Brain Tumour Charity campaign gave me the strength and joy I needed to not lose who I was this year. I am so grateful to all those professionals, families and friends who cared for me. If you’re looking to get your confidence back, work with a charity and use the time to build your confidence. Feel proud that you are giving back to society whilst becoming more employable.