Olivia Sugden is this year’s recipient of The Circle Education Pass It On Mentorship Award. Olivia has been part of the Pass it On Girls program for the past three years. She was wholeheartedly committed to the program and its participants, and with her warm, open and non-judgmental disposition, she embodies the principles of Pass it On. Before she leaves Salt Spring Island and Galliano, where she lives, to study Social Sciences at UVic, she pinpoints five important things she learned about herself while being in Pass it On.
Take my mask off
The thing that maybe stuck on the most for me, was that I was able to take my mask off. I was a bit shy and reserved when I joined Pass it On, but through the program, I learned to show more of myself. I felt that my perspective was valued and it helped me to take that out of the circle and into my normal life as well. It also made me realize that I don’t have to change myself for people trying to fit in. I definitely grew more confident.
Look beyond assumptions
We talk a lot about assumptions in Pass it On. I learned to look beyond those assumptions and social boundaries. By doing that, I was able to meet new people outside the boxes that we put around them. It became easier to connect with people that don’t have the same interests as me and that was big for me as well.
Before I joined Pass it On it was hard for me to set boundaries. During my middle school and early high school years, I let people treat me in a way that wasn’t kind and I felt that I just had to deal with that. Through the circle and the older mentors I had in the group, I think I am pretty good now at setting boundaries. Maybe this person doesn’t need to be in my life, or I shouldn’t let them influence my life. I got a bit tougher.
Be a better listener
I’ve definitely learned to be a better listener, an active listener. Not thinking about what you’re going say while someone else is talking, but just listening. It is not always about yourself, so try to listen instead of giving your opinion or advice.
Navigate difficult things
Because of the program, I became better at navigating difficult things. If you can mention things, you can manage them better. You can learn from others to do things differently and seeing other people going through the same things made it easier to handle stress and anxiety.