Lauren’s Story – No matter the struggle, education is the way through
I’ve struggled with my mental health since I was 17 years old. I attempted college twice before, it never worked out. If I missed one day, that would be it, the anxiety would get the better of me.
As a child I had great expectations, I really wanted to get into politics, but I never felt like I could because I came from a single parent family who struggled their whole way through. And when I became a single mother myself, that became my entire life. I love my kids so much, and I wanted to do the best for us, but I struggled.
I’m not going to hide it, I would find myself feeling trapped in situations, with the bills to pay and dealing with my stress and anxiety, and I used to think that suicide was the only way out. But all that changed when I came to An Cosán.
The way I started with An Cosán was going there for counselling, that was two years ago. They saw how I was struggling and suggested I do a parenting course, and that’s where my new journey began.
I was having my tea and my scone, and one of the ladies came and we just had a chat. She made me feel so confident, she made me feel better about myself, and she made me believe I could actually do a course. So I did.
I started on the Young Women’s Education Programme, learning all these new Business and Administration skills. Because of my social anxiety, it was terrifying to start, but this was so different to before.
When I walked in, it was the support that made that difference. If there was a day that I missed, the tutor would e-mail me over what they had done or give me a one to one session. I was worried they’d give out, but they didn’t.
Everything they did was meeting me where I was at. There was the childcare, which was such a relief knowing that while I was getting my education my kids were also getting the best start possible. The counselling was still there for me too, at An Cosán it’s like they wrap their arms around you and make sure you have what you need so you can do your studies.
The mentors I work with helped me set goals, for my education and for my life in general. I’ve got to meet Norah Casey, Ivana Bacik, Leo Varadkar, this is something I’d never have gotten the experience of. Having these very important people, listening to me, I couldn’t believe that. When I met Simon Harris, I said “Keep the seat warm, I want your job one day”. He loved that, he could see I was determined to make it.
There is only so much any service can offer, but they offer you everything you could need to fix yourself.
Now I know that in a few years I’ll be comfortable, I know my kids won’t have to have the same life that I had, I’m breaking that cycle now. The person I am now, I can fight for my kids, and not just my kids, I can fight for my community too.
I’ve lived in Tallaght my whole life, I’m 26 years old. I want to change the way people look at Tallaght. One of my mentors said, “Just because you’re from Tallaght doesn’t mean you can’t do anything you want”. I want to change how we’re seen. There’s a lot of hardworking people who have great aspirations, but if you can’t see it you can’t be it.
After An Cosán, my aim is to go to Trinity, I want to study politics. I am going to make a change in this country, be a voice for the people. I’m going to stand up and show people that it doesn’t matter what you’ve been through.
The person I am now, I know there’s a way out, because An Cosán showed me there’s a way out. And that way is hard work and dedication.
I’m going to be the Taoiseach of this country one day, my son is going to be the President, my Daughter is going to be the Minister for Children
We as a family are going to be something because of An Cosán.