Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Youth Opportunities Speech

I dunno why I'm putting this here lol. Mostly coz I want to post something but it's all on the other computer...

This is a speech I wrote at the end of term 1 this year after a course called Youth Opportunities that I partcipated in, this was the final night where we explained to family and friends what we had taken away. In all honesty, I need to read this again and let the truth of what I said then sink in again. I leave you to it.

Today I have a story to share with you, a story which many of you won't have heard before. This story is not yet complete, so it is only the beginning you will hear for now, but hopefully that will be enough for you to gain an understanding of how I am here, and what exactly that means for me, and the people around me.

My name is Larissa, and I guess there are many reasons why I'm here, why I needed to go through the process that brought me here in the first place. Some of these I can honestly say I don't know, some are fairly obvious, but however well you know me, you will no doubt have seen glimpses of some of these things.

At the start of high school I had very little confidence; I had only just started making friends after being painfully shy throughout most of primary school. Since none of these new friends were coming to the Hub with me, I was really nervous. However, I did make some more friends in the first term of year 8, some pretty much instantly, and as I got used to high school, I seemed fairly happy. But going on into year 9 and partway through year 10, I was secretly pretty miserable, although it hid it well, mostly. Some of you may ask what it was I had to be sad about, you may tell me about the other problems people have; and I am not looking for sympathy, this was never meant to be a sob story. All I know is that it was not life I hated, but myself. I secretly questioned what my friends saw in me, why they were even friends with me at all. I told myself that I didn't deserve friends, amongst other things; I actually could not see anything about myself positively, although I learned to fake it. Every time I said something seemingly nice, or good, about myself, I would inwardly turn it against myself so that I may as well have just said I wad worth nothing and could do nothing.

Let me tell you something. It is not hard to be miserable; it is one of the easiest things in the world. And happiness, well, you have to work for that, you have to keep going, keep getting up, every single time you fall; and sometimes, sometimes that is the hardest thing in the world to do. There was a time that I decided to give up on hope, hope that I would one day be happy with myself, and face up to reality. But this so called "reality" was in itself a lie, and I came to realise just how important hope actually is.

School work was a major problem for me during part of year 9; due to my terrible organisational skills and procrastination, a lot of my work was left to the last minute and I felt like I was drowning in school work for a lot of this. Not knowing how to deal with it as the work just kept piling up, I wanted to leave my life for a bit, just stick my head in the sand and try to forget everything that was happening. Needless to say, I was unable to make this happen, so I kept trying to avoid reality and put off the work as long as I could. Obviously in doing this I was just digging myself deeper and I knew this but I couldn't seem to stop. I ended up doing most of my assignments at the very last minute, staying up for hours the night before a due date when the necessity finally kicked me into action. Not sleeping more than 3 or 4 hours a night for weeks on end because of all the stress from school made me tired all the time, and that obviously didn't help anything. With the start of term 3 I began to get on top of all of that a bit, and my grades improved heaps, in my opinion at least. I wasn't terrified of coming to school for the first time in months.

Since then, things have slowly been getting better. There have been so many people in my life that have helped me get through things I never thought I would, some without even knowing just how much their presence in my life has comforted me, and I am incredibly grateful for them every day. I have been gradually learning to rely on these people that I have learned to trust more, learning that exposing our fears isn't so bad, that hiding problems only makes them darker, scarier, and more mysterious, giving them power over me that they never should have had.

But even with all the learning I was doing on my own, even as I was taking my first tentative steps outside my comfort zone, I needed something more. In spite of becoming ever more accepting of who I was, I still had my doubts, times when misery still seemed the easiest and most comforting option; really, the safest option.

Yet looking far ahead, I saw myself as happy, truly happy, not just outwardly happy, but as having an inner contentment. Youth Opportunities has given me the tools to achieve this, as long as I choose to use them along with other things in my life.

For me, it was really hard to decide to even choose to do the course in the first place. Upon first hearing of it, my first instinct was to run away and hide. I was so scared by the idea of doing the problem, and thinking about it, I realised the problem was that I knew it could help me if i wanted it to, but being helped was something I was scared of. It has long been a habit of mine to deny that anything is wrong, that I may ever need help, because that would force me to admit that things need to change; and change is one thing I was deathly scared of, without ever realising.

Change means leaving our comfort zones, breaking barriers and limitations that we ourselves have set, accepting the need to grow, and taking action on it; it means travelling to uncomfortable heights, uncomfortable places. Someone I greatly admire once wrote, "It is certainly easier to stay silent. That's what most people do. We don't like dirty laundry. We prefer to wear our cleanest shirt. But we have to learn to face our broken stuff. We have to do our laundry. We have to learn to let go, to grow." Throughout the past few months, I have come to realise just how true and how necessary this is for me.

By facing up to reality, and applying skills I have learnt in Youth Opportunities, I have begun to take responsibility in my life, and while I'll admit school work has become a problem again this year, I am working on fixing it. Being in this program has challenged me to make improvements in my life that I never would have made on my own, and I know it is now up to me to decide how I want to live my life. I have gained a sense of direction to my life; while I am still not sure what career I want to go into, I know my general purpose in this area, and this has helped me a lot. I can be happy and successful if I want, and making the decision to be happy every day is something that becomes easier and more of a habit the more I do it. Believing in myself and accepting myself is still an ongoing process, like most things in life, but I am confident that I can get there.

1 comment:

  1. I am thinking
    that perhaps i should put up my youth opps speech on my blog
    but i are ashamed of it
    it could have been so much better
    so much more real
    what do you think?