The majority of my early childhood memories are consumed by my grandma and thinking about her still makes me teary this day. Regardless of how long ago she passed, I remember her perfectly. We would always do girly things together like bake; look at old photos and artworks from before I was born. She also helped me write my first little book which was just some squiggly drawings and strange looking letters, but it has so much value and I still have it. She bought me my first and precious stuffed Pink Panther toy (that I admittedly still sleep with). I think we got along so well because we loved each other’s company, therefore we bonded. We had so much in common and she treated me like I was the only person in her life.
She was around 62 when she died, so she was young for a senior. I felt confused and lonely and didn’t understand why she would just suddenly ‘disappear’. Hardly a year later things got worse. My mum and dad were constantly fighting for many personal reasons and they eventually separated.
I lived with my dad. We moved away and I started school out in the western suburbs. I still visited my mum and sister on the weekends, but grew up not knowing either of them very well.
We originally lived around Wiley Park, but moved out into the Western Suburbs. It was just my dad and I for a long time. It’s awkward talking about girly things like hormonal changes and boys with your dad. Sometimes a girl just needs a female in her life.
Growing up without a mother around, I grew up more quickly than most and had no choice but to become very independent at an early age. I was often the one looking after my younger sister when dad went out. I thought I knew everything.
I didn’t seem to fit in to mainstream school and was often the class clown. I got in-trouble a lot. I got sent to detention mainly for not taking cooking classes seriously or for wearing purple socks. I was suspended from school and from public transport.
Aside from the craziness, I was bullied. The older girls would make fun of me because I wasn’t as pretty as them and make nasty comments about the way I dance and draw. I fell off my bike in front of everyone and they laughed in my face. During an assembly, a boy pulled my chair away from behind me so when I went to sit down; I fell straight to the floor. Everyone laughed. I laughed with them but I was fighting back the tears.
I became negative and rebelled. I had no self-control and didn’t care about anything. I climbed out windows to escape class, wore the wrong uniform, talked back to teachers, didn’t do my work and came to school a mess. Even when the principle referred me to the counsellor, I didn’t feel comfortable because I don’t open up easily to strangers. Despite my wild behaviour, I suffered in silence. I’d lost my self-belief. No one understood me.
The counsellor knew about the SISTER2sister program which is about girls like me. Girls who want to make a change for the better. I thought it was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. I had an opportunity to have a Big Sister as a girl for me. I was accepted and was introduced to Kathy who saw my potential from the very beginning and we hit it off.
It was a fresh and positive start to 2010. The program had different outings each month where we got to spend time with other Little and Big Sisters doing fun things such as Butterfly Bootcamp, dancing, art classes and others things. It taught us how to live a healthy life style and my outlook on life was changed. With Kathy’s guidance, I started to find myself again. If I wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming an established actress, I had to go out and get it myself. I had to learn to accept the things I had, even if it’s not a lot and stop living to impress people.
Because I couldn’t fit in with mainstream school, Kathy thought a good idea was Bradfield Senior College which is more flexible, it’s independent and you can be yourself without fearing judgement. The subjects were more on the creative side which suited me perfectly.
It opened my eyes. I became close with my mum; finally receiving that mother daughter time I’d always desired. The college made me closer to my mum as it gave her a deeper insight to what type of person I am, what I want to do and how hard I’m willing to work to achieve success. I’m being a role model for my sister, my life was mending itself, and things only got better.
Because of the program, I’ve made new friends, gained a friend for life, started taking responsibility for my education and never lost hope. It’s also made me a more confident person.
I can proudly say I’ve turned my life around. I am now 20 years old and have completed my HSC. I’m in a happily relationship, took a gap year to work and travel overseas. I have a certificate in Sound Engineering, work casually as a children’s entertainer and photographer, moved into my own house and have almost completed my first year at Acting College. I’m a happier person and gained what I’ve always longed for; self-belief.
Self-belief is something everyone needs. Without it, you can lose yourself. For all those girls out there who feel lost or down about themselves or feel like they’ll amount to nothing; self-belief. There are two meanings in self-belief. You is the first and love is the second. You can’t love until you love yourself and belief comes from that. Everything else flows from there.
I still see Kathy regularly and thank her for changing my life for the better.