How do you feel your confidence has changed over the past 10 years?

The 5 years of 2014-2019, I was in my early twenties, only just out of university after graduating with my Master’s in Human Rights Law, trying to find my feet in my chosen career, had been in two broken relationships, was extremely self-conscious of my body which equalled being unworthy of affection, love or of being listened to. I would try and use my voice but came up against ableism, ageism, sexism time and time again in the early part of my career meaning I often felt silenced, which is strange as people would probably describe me as a ‘loud’ person.

For much of my life I have felt like I don’t belong, don’t quite fit, an outsider. I’ve always felt older than my age, an old soul, knowledgeable and experienced, but not yet old enough to be taken seriously. 

I definitely feel like over the last 5 years my confidence has grown exponentially.

In most aspects of my life, I feel more secure in the sense of who I am, what I want and who I want to be as I continue to grow.

Why do you think that is?

I turn 31 in 4 weeks and there is definitely something about being in your 30s, acceptance wraps itself around me.

I feel more at peace with my body, my looks, my thoughts and feelings.

This may have something to do with my late diagnosis of autism that came when I was 29 – everything made more sense and ‘clicked’.

I also describe getting my dog as a puppy in 2019 as a truly life-changing and defining moment. Getting him, everything clicked into place, I know I was supposed to have him in my life and I was support to be in his.

I know I was meant to have a dog and promoting dog behaviour and wellbeing has become one of my life’s purposes, alongside my advocacy in women’s rights.

My dog came into my life during a particularly dark period and I feel such gratitude towards him. There is something about the love of an animal, it is so pure and unconditional, you are totally accepted for exactly who you are – sharing my life with my dog is the greatest gift.

One of my favourite quotes is by John Grogan: “A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water-logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he’ll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?”

Do you feel invisible in some aspects of your life? How does that show up?

As a young professional, I’m often underestimated, even when holding management positions. I have sat on editorial boards, am the founder and ceo of an organisation, have two degrees and a myriad of CPD plus over a decade’s experience working in the field but due to looking much younger than I am.

I find I’m often overlooked and feel I have to prove myself much more than someone who is older than me.

Additionally, as someone who knew from a very young age that I didn’t want to have children, sometimes I feel judged for this choice and placed on the outskirts of society. As if I’m not a ‘real’ woman because I’m satisfied with a life without pregnancy and children.

As a person with invisible disabilities, I’ve felt my fair share of ableism. Even when I disclose my disabilities, because they aren’t visible, people seem to forget fairly often. I feel like I’m a burden sometimes because of the adjustments I require due to my health needs and find it’s sometimes easier to fade into the background.

Tell me about a woman who is older than you, inspires you and why? Describe how she makes you feel.

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by women older than me that inspire me. I’ve always gravitated towards people older than me, often having friends who are older, I think this comes from being so close to my Nanny since childhood, she is one of my best friends – we speak openly, go to WI meetings together and she is a rare person I feel I can be my true self with. She is the generation of women who paved the way for the next to have more freedom, whilst arguably sacrificing their own. She has previously talked about how she would live her life differently had circumstances or society been different when she was young and this pushes me to create an environment that only champions women and allows them to be anything they want.

One of my closest friends Tricia, is over 20 years older than I but is someone I hold in highest regard. She is childfree, highly renowned in her sector and extremely generous with her time and wisdom. She supports me in everything I strive for, no questions asked and she is someone I feel very comfortable being myself with. I feel our friendship is equal in give and take, which can be rare. I treasure our friendship.

What worries you about ageing?

I try not to worry too much about ageing and embrace it instead. I love birthdays and have always said we can’t stop time or slow it down so why fight it? Ageing is natural and every year that passes is full of achievements. However, I do occasionally worry about my health declining as I age and how I will cope when I’m older.

I’ve been single for 5 years and am not sure I will ever have another partner; I wonder what it will be like when I need help to get around etc I worry about losing my independence and becoming a burden on others.

I worry about dying whilst my pets are still alive.

I worry about not feeling safe as an older woman, even more so than now as a young woman. I know I will be less able to physically defend myself if required and I know I will be ignored more and believed less when older.

I worry that the voice I’ve worked so hard to build to become heard will once again falter and break, the words tumbling to the floor before they reach the ears of others. It’s hard to know that the ageism faced as a young women will flip as an older woman but still the outcome is the same, erased.

My area of expertise is sexual violence and I know that women are not safe at any age, even in death, some men will exploit our bodies if they have the chance.

What excites you about ageing?

All the books left to read, all the music left to hear, all the films left to watch, all the places left to visit, all the people left to meet, all the plans I haven’t yet fulfilled. I have so many goals left and I have (hopefully) decades left to explore them. I’m looking forward to being taken more seriously in my chosen sectors as I grow older.

I must be one of the only people wanting to look older than I am!

I look younger than my age, often people mistake me for being in my early to mid-twenties and so I’m often dismissed as not being knowledgeable in my subject, despite being a highly qualified and experienced specialist with lived experience. I really had to fight/advocate on a daily basis when working in frontline survivor support to be listened to by other professionals.

I know that as soon as I begin to look older, I will be taken more seriously and I’m looking forward to not having to prove myself every time I contribute to conversations.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Your time will come. You will find your purpose.

You will find your people.

You are strong, capable and beautiful just as you are.

You are worthy of good things.

You matter just as much as other people; your worth is not only tied to helping others.

You don’t have to be perfect; you can let things go.

You are enough, just as you are.

Don’t be afraid to embrace change.

Let go of the thoughts or feelings that don’t serve you.

Don’t seek so much acceptance from others, don’t hold on to people in your life that don’t really want to be there, you deserve to have people in your life who understand, love and accept you for who you truly are.

Vulnerability is strength.

Fast forward to 2033 what are the 3 things you hope will have changed?

I hope that the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse is better known by frontline professionals. This is a goal my organisation ‘Safeguarding Animal & Human Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Abuse’ hopes to help achieve.

I hope violence against women is taken more seriously and more men come on board as true allies.

I hope we replace juries in sexual violence and domestic abuse trials with a panel of experts thus increasing positive criminal justice outcomes.

Question from Mary, what advice do you give but need to take yourself?

I give out lots of advice that I should take myself! Haha I often tell my colleagues ‘you can only do what you can do within the limitations of your role’ but I strive for perfectionism and hold myself to an unrealistic high standard.

I need to learn it’s OK to just do your best and that’s enough.


Thank you, Maya, for answering my questions.

To find out more about Maya’s work visit: