My name is Margaret and I am currently in my final year at the University of Liverpool, studying law with criminology. Whenever someone asks me why I wanted to study law my answer is always “I wanted to change the world”. I wanted to help people get the justice they deserved to move forward with their life, something I don’t believe I ever got. Looking back now, picking law has helped me overcome what I have been through and understand why certain things happened the way they did.

My university experience

University has been a rollercoaster, to say the least, with many trials and tribulations. In particular as a young person leaving care it was a difficult transition for me. I struggled with the lack of support offered to me during this time. I think that, from the outside looking in, I seemed to be coping and handling everything well, however this was far from the truth. I felt very alone dealing with the politics of university, finances, accommodation and battling my own demons.

I just needed someone to guide and signpost me. More than anything I needed someone on my hardest days to tell me it was going to be okay. To be my cheerleader. I strongly believe that services need to be put in place to guide and support young people who are considering university. For example, workshops and liaising with the university to ensure the young person is supported holistically. It has been difficult and my physical and mental health has declined on a number of occasions, but I am extremely grateful for my amazing foster mum and friends who became family.

I’ve written a little piece that in so many words sums up how I overcame my hardest days. It is titled “You will surprise yourself”.

You will surprise yourself

You will surprise yourself with how much strength you have even when all the odds are against you.

You will surprise yourself with how you still manage to smile even on your darkest days.

You will surprise yourself with just how much you have achieved and will still achieve. Even the achievements others deem as small, only you will know how big they are to you.

I, for sure, have surprised myself. If you would have told me I would be in university studying law, graduating in July, and working towards doing my masters in September, I would have probably laughed or maybe cried with disbelief. Who would have thought someone who was so broken and abused would be standing here in front of you all because I sure did not? So many times I could feel myself ready to give up, my whole body shutting down, constantly asking myself “why me”, “when will things get better”. But during those times I still managed to get out of bed and try again. Why?

The answer is in the title: “You will surprise yourself.”

You will use everything you’ve been through to become the best version of yourself.

On your darkest days you will push through and remind yourself that, although you’re not where you want to be, you’re sure as hell not where you used to be

You will surprise yourself with how much fight you have in you until fighting is the only choice you have to change things.

If there’s one thing I would love you all to take away from this piece, it would be to always believe in yourself because I am telling you now, you will surprise yourself. We have all been in situations we never thought we would overcome – but we did. That’s the beauty of life – no situation is permanent.