For this month’s Life After NCS series, we’re shining the spotlight on NCS grad Jaz. Before NCS, Jaz had a severe case of anxiety and had a tough time meeting new people. Her anxiety even got in the way of reaching her full potential, but luckily her time on NCS changed that!
Read our interview with the amazing grad to find out all about her NCS experience and how Jaz has conquered her anxiety issues!
Knowing you had severe anxiety, you must have been so nervous moments before you arrived on NCS! Describe what you were feeling – from days leading up to the programme to the moment you arrived.
I was filled with an array of emotions. During the months leading up to the set off date, I psyched myself out and said I wasn't going. But after I attended the group meeting, I made a friend and became more excited than scared. I really enjoyed packing, partly because I had an excuse to buy new clothes, and it also meant that I was really going. I didn't get too anxious until the morning I arrived in Littlehampton, before catching the coach. But after a short while and a lot of icebreaker conversations with people, I calmed down and got excited about the summer.
At what point on NCS did you start opening up to your peers? Did a certain phase/moment help you break out of your shell?
There was definitely a defining moment when I broke out of my shell. Not just mine, but i think the girls I shared a room with felt the same way. The first night was awkward, which you can expect when you put six people, who’ve never met before, in the same room together. Yet on the second night, everything changed. We realised that our room was starting to smell, and after searching everywhere, I realised it was a mouldy cheese sandwich inside my lunch box from two days ago. Safe to say, after opening the box to reveal the smell, everyone evacuated the room, and we laughed so hard – that’s when the ice completely broke.
Before NCS, you were out of education, employment and training but now you’re studying at Chichester College! How did NCS help overcome your anxiety and give you the push you need to take the next step towards your future?
If it hadn’t been for NCS, i wouldn’t have been able to make friends at college this year. NCS helped me to communicate with my peers, especially during the second week. I spent a lot of time being scared of my peers that I couldn’t even speak to them. During the summer, I came out of my shell. My confidence is much higher now, and I couldn't be more grateful. Being placed in a group of people and being told you're going to stay with those people for a month is scary because it could all go wrong! But we made it work, and made sure to help each other feel comfortable.
What were some of your most memorable moments on NCS?
Definitely the cheese sandwich incident! Also on the third night, we decided that our bathroom was starting to get damp so my roommate borrowed some Dettol and began to clean the floor. She used too much, and it was so strong that we had to change rooms. Because this happened at 11pm, we caused quite a stir! If that wasn’t bad enough, at 12:30am we shut the door and it locked us in! At this point, this situation was hilarious. Our leaders were laughing as much we were, until finally one of them managed to climb through the tiny window and save us. In the end, being locked in scared us so much that we went back to the original room. By the morning, we were infamous around the camp! This was probably my favourite memory from the whole trip.
What are you studying at college? Do you know what you want to do after you graduate?
I’m currently studying art and design – I love it! Next year, I would like to branch out and get a law degree but at the moment, I'm liking just seeing where life takes me. I'm set on going to university after college, but I’d like to become a leader for NCS over the summer.
What advice would you give other teens with similar anxiety issues? Would you recommend they go on NCS too?
I definitely recommend going on NCS if you have anxiety issues! Before NCS, I could barely leave the house. Now I can go anywhere, and speak to all kinds of people. I feel so much better – I hardly ever get panic attacks anymore. I know it's hard to push yourself, but try. I gave myself three days. If i didn't like it in the first three days, I would have gone home. But you'll find that once things settle down and everyone gets to know each other, you won't want to go home. NCS is an amazing experience and you should do it whilst you can!