Hey there, im olly as all of you should know… And i am here today with a question for each of you to think over Here it is, Is it true? You know, what they say. They say that it is your experiences that make you who you are, is this true for you? Because for me without the experiences i have had i would be so much worse off it is my experiences that have made me who i am.
Now saying that makes it sounds like my life has been a breeze but i assure you it’s quite the opposite and yet i consider myself, lucky. But why? If my life is hard how is that lucky at all? Its lucky because of the way i can look back at everything today and see how the progression of my attitude and my opinions towards the world around me came about. But not just that but also my view of the value my life has as a whole.
So picture this, you are a primary school kid and from year one, you were told that something was wrong with you because you are unusually slow. I mean come on! There’s 26 whole letters in the alphabet man how much do u expect me to remember?
Okay so i’m not sure how bad i really was but it’s no joke when i say that every teacher that i ever had in primary school but one, told me that i wasn’t worth teaching, that i was too dumb and honestly i was so highly spirited i would say okay cool then i don’t have to be here and i would run away or go play on the playground or whatever i could to get out of the classroom and have some fun.
By age 10 I was in the “development” maths class run by a woman named Marg. Marg to me was the name that made my heart turn cold and made me wanna curl up in a ball. She was meant to help those of us who were in that class but all she did was tell us what we really were: stupid, hopeless and that we would never ever accomplish a single thing in our lives, and my personal most hated name… That we were Retards. Well that’s what she told us anyway.
Now here is where i met probably my first ever friend and yes that does mean that for five years i would play on the playground alone or go help the caretaker rake leaves as long as it wasn’t schoolwork i was happy. It wasn’t because i hated school, i loved the idea of being smart but it is because i did not respect the people who were “Teaching” me. So, my friend was this other boy who was stuck in the same class, an unusual kid called Wyatt who shared the same humor as i did and back then that was all it took for us to become best friends. Being yelled at that day with my new best friend Wyatt at my side would usually crush any 10 year old but not me; only in having him there did i have the confidence to actually get mad and in return told her that she was an angry old bag and would stay single forever and together Wyatt and i left that room. Marg wasn’t the start of it and she certainly wasn’t the end of it but even in my rebellion i will admit, her words hurt. They always did.
Honestly i think that even though i had to put up with all of my teachers singling me out calling me stupid, saying i was just a waste of space, I am lucky. I am lucky because without them I wouldn’t learn to stick up for myself against others, no matter how mighty they seem at the time. I wouldn’t have learned that in fact I don’t have to listen to their poisonous words and I wouldn’t have learned that my voice can be just as powerful as hers can. Best of all i’m lucky because being “too Stupid” gave me My best friend.
After school moving into college was all so scary, new school new teachers and most of all, we all went from being top of the food chain to becoming fresh meat. My first year I’ll admit it was easy and exciting and my first year teacher made mac a really great place for me but come Year 8 the tables had turned. I had a teacher who at first seems all right but shortly after she reminded me so much of all those teachers from primary school that I knew I was in for a rough time. I’ll admit that i wasn’t a saint but who is? As a year 8 student sure i was loud from time to time and spoke over the teacher every now and again but i still never got why i couldn’t understand what we were learning in class. And here i was again, only as soon as she commented on my lack of ability i would be triggered and off i was, even the most minor of incidents would result in a pink slip and a boring walk to see Sam at the office.
This teacher spent her time rather than singling me out she would ignore me and my close friends too, she would simply refuse to aid us in whatever it was that we required help with. Usually this wouldn’t be too much of a problem but the fact was that in year 8 you’re teacher teaches everything so it wasn’t just one subject i was missing it was everything.
The result of this treatment was wyatt and i becoming “bad boys.” We were in detention together every day for two whole terms and there were only 3 days of Term four when we weren’t in detention then as well. She would put us in there for not doing our homework. Now how were we to do our homework if we weren’t taught the content and we were refused the help when we asked for it? After long, I began to hate school: I hated my teacher, I hated class, I hated everything and I grew quite aggressive but even still I would never lash out unless someone else was stupid enough to start it.
At the time there was a lot going on. I had just quit rugby because i got bullied out of playing it, i was being constantly harassed by my school teacher and frankly i was growing quite sick of my life in wanaka, i was usually high spirited but it would seem that my constant optimism was taking a huge toll on me and i started to wear out. then finally it was time for a weekend away from that place i never wanted to be, i got to go duck shooting. It was my first year, second term was just back and the best part was my favorite person in the whole world was gonna be there… Dj he was the one older cousin that i idolized, i looked up to and he was my favorite person alive
The morning after we arrived a call came to the house and we were urgently taken into town with my nanna, After long we were on Djs street and i was so excited and i mean so ready to jump out of the car and bolt inside to see him but to my surprise there were already some people at his house. The house was surrounded by caution tape and they had 4 police cars parked in front of the big white fence that hid the front yard from sight. I was instructed to stay in the van and so i did while my nana went to talk to the officers. She came back over the road after a wee while with her head down, nan opened the door to the van and she said to me “i’m sorry, you have just lost a cousin d.j has died” For a while i was calm i had no idea how to react and i remember the quaver in my voice when the only words i could get out were oh okay. My nana left me alone with those words ringing in my ears on replay, they played over and over making the message sink deeper and deeper into my skull to the point where i was shaking lost and best of all, i was alone.
At the time i’ll admit i was not half as sad as i got towards the end but that day the worst thing was seeing everyone arrived home, one by one his brother his sister his mum and dad, they all exploded into tears, a broken family crying together over something no one ever expected and all i could do was sit and watch feeling confused, cold and alone.
The fact of the matter is that DJ wasn’t the first person, there were 432 combined male and female teen suicides reported in 2011 and over that year itself i was directly affected by 6 of them. Whether the person was my cousin or an amazing friend, the few people i held close to me in that part of my life genuinely faded into ash.
This man, hard doesn’t even come close to explaining how this was for me the pain of loosing my family, my friends, people i loved over and over not giving me any time to breathe to heal i was slowly dying inside myself. But as i learned time goes on, 4 counselors sessions a week later and i became the new school freak, for a while this was a bad thing but with most things that have a bad there is always a good and the good in this one was there were people who were hurting who weren’t me, strangers, peers, others i saw every day. Now having made it through absolute hell and back these kids now going through it could come to me and ask why how what do i do? And as a result of me having to do this i could help them so they didn’t have to suffer alone like i did.
Looking back on all of this now i can only see how lucky i was, lucky i survived, lucky i felt sorry for myself but ultimately lucky because i know first hand what a life that couldn’t get much worse at all feels like and now i know how important even a smile to someone who truly needs one can be. A smile a hug a talk about what the future might hold, or about how people can cry and not be sad and not be alone but remember, love and even laugh. so for the wisdom these events have stamped on my heart and mind i am lucky.
Being lonely, is it such a bad thing? Ill admit i did go out of my way to be alone but sometimes it was what i needed. when i was alone i would go out and sit by the river or in the rain and sit for sometimes an hour, even two getting damp but feeling so moved, the cold the struggle at breath the strange colour in the clouds and mist that sat perched on top of everything in sight, it kept me in tune with my emotions. I always did and i still do love to sit alone, especially when there is thunder and you can feel it on your chest when the Boom echoes across the town. a reason for me being alone i think is because every time i would be alone i would really feel alive, every slight feeling the cold the boom any noise the feel of rain the smell of wet grass whatever it was i felt it 10 fold and in those moments the world seems so amazing rather than the terrible place i had come to know.
After the worst year of my life and what started to actually be an amazing turning point for me where did it go? IT WENT UP it went well up and i started having these interactions and events happened that shaped the happy side of me.
I have done haka and learned to speak maori for many years now and just through persisting i eventually became the male kaia of MAC kapa haka which means i run the show, this position was super good for my self esteem because the students ide teach they respected something i love and they would actually listen and take me seriously most the time. These people looked up to me and it made me feel like an important person for once in my life.
Not only this but i began spending time with people again as i had learned that life does keep moving so to quote dory and be happy in life, i had to just keep on swimming.
so i took up sport and i would try reading although after tests i learned that i had dyslexia which always made that a little difficult. But i hated being that guy who would blame it on dyslexia, it’s not like it made me a complete spud. Sure i still don’t know which witch is which but i have made it this far haven’t i?. I always get a bit of shit for it from mates but i mean dyslexics are teople poo so why make a fuss about it, i chose to just keep swimming and for me life has just become open doors.
Spending time alone taught me a really cool lesson, although i loved my space and it was always nice where there were no people but i learned that i can find that same peace in being around the right people, my friends that i had started to play games with my fellow sportsman and musicians they all helped me realise that hey i’m not a gloomy guy and really the world is fun as!
With this more positive energy about life everyone started to notice i tried harder to study, i got more involved in conversations i developed quite welcoming social skills and before long i had become what most would consider a pretty good guy.
My confidence changed my life, and as i made all these changes i was so lucky to have the constant support of my friends and my mum and dad telling me how much they loved who i had become and my favorite thing was that they were proud of me!
The last epic encounter that has had such an amazing impact on my life personally it has been the most empowering, This was when olly encountered love. Yeahh eww boys talking about love that’s so lame, honestly i am so confident in who i am i couldn’t care less what other people think of me because i am me and due to one a special someone i have learned that being me is well enough to be forever happy.
So sure i was happy already i had gained new friends i did sports i enjoyed life, what more was there for me? Life was good… well the day I lay eyes on her was the day i realised that i was missing one thing, i wasn’t actually loved. This person and i got close and what i thought was love initially to my amazement wasn’t even the full of it, there was more… as we grew older each day our relationship got stronger not just as a couple but as friends too. We grew to trust each other more than anyone and tell each other about our insecurities, after long we would rely on each other to catch one if the other fell.
Naturally in growing we got to know eachothers backgrounds and i’ll admit i was nervous i’d scare her away with my dysfunctional past. Something that this showed me was that i was actually still a bit insecure about my past. I had never completely accepted the things that happened, instead i buried myself in hobbies and moved on. But after i met, her and actually had someone to really talk to about it all, someone i knew i could trust i was surprised to find that when i talked to her about it all, what i got in return was support. I got verbal encouragement telling me that the things in my past, the haunting memories and people who hurt me didn’t matter anymore, that i am capable of so much and this label that had been stamped on me was only true if i let it be. She told me that my grades didnt define me and with a bit of hard work i can do whatever it was i wanted to. That although my past may have been hard i had a shoulder to cry on and that there was no shame in that.
The attention the encouragement the trust the respect it is all so overwhelming and i had never had anyone who was there for me like she was. So here i stand today with a goal i once saw impossible currently a mere hop skip and a jump away i have friends for days who i think are some of the most amazing people around and no shortage of encouragement from friends family and my special one, i have those who respect me and those i rely on to get me through the day and loving this one person has even brought me closer to myself, i have not a fear in the world but most importantly i have come to know that i actually am loved by so many people and before i just wasn’t able to see it. She opened my eyes to the fact that i never had to be alone and upset but that i always had people who could help me if and when times got rough in the future.
Earlier i asked you if you thought it was true, if you thought it was true what the people said about how it is your encounters that made you who you are in life? Well for me, i still think the answer is surely yes. Because of my encounters i am one person who knows what it is like to be told you are worthless almost every day of your growing life, i know how it feels to be alone. I know what it’s like to be already at the bottom and then lose the most important thing to you in the world or to feel that the world itself and every soul on it is against you.
But from rock bottom the only way was up and so with all of this i learned what it feels like to rise up from the dead, i know what it feels like to be included and be accepted, i know how it feels to have great friends and to be a respected leader and because of my one i know what it feels like to know that i am loved, that i am smart and funny and that i am actually worth something. I have been able to learn that i don’t have to live life alone and that from simple encounters your whole world can change in ways you could not see coming for a mile away. I have become wizer to the joys of life and how strong the lows can be but never will i let them hurt me because i know that is not who i am anymore my encounters set me free and without them, there is no way i would be who i am today.