I was a little stumped on what to share this week as my week has been pretty benign. I thought I would ask the youngest person I know who reads my blogs to give me inspiration, my son. He asked that I write about Relationship Advice, or the trials and tribulations of my teenage years. I have decided that Teenage Years it is. My Teenage years were a rollercoaster ride of emotions, experiences, and interactions. The years can be divided up into School, Friends, Everything Else. This will give the clearest picture of what my teenage years were like.
School for my teenage years was, like every child in Canberra, into two location, Calwell High School for grades 7 to 10 and Lake Tuggeranong College for grades 11 and 12. Calwell High was a public school in a mid to low socioeconomic area. There was no uniform, only a colour code that was barely adhered to. The teachers tried their best but were worn down by years of attitude and filth. Most of the schools funding a resources were spent replacing or fixing equipment and facilities that had been destroyed by students. Fights were frequent, and often involved weapons of both the ad hoc and very deliberate type. There were issues with violence, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and general poor behaviour. Police visits, both called and random, were commonplace. There would be a fence erected around the school, not to keep people out, but students in. Often relief teachers would be asked to come in and baby sit 2 to 3 classes at a time, which is somewhere near 100 children.
With the scene set this is the High School I attended. Before I go any further I don’t regret going to the school, I don’t resent my parents for sending me there, and I don’t blame anything on anyone outside of the situations described henceforth. My earliest memory of the school was outside the art class room, a class which to this day I have never excelled at. I was standing out the from with my backpack over both shoulders, shirt tucked into my jeans, and sneakers on. It was the 90s leave me alone. I was approached by one of my classmate who said if I didn’t want to get picked on I should untuck my shirt and only carry my bag on one shoulder. I thanked her for the advice, acted upon it, and continued to wait outside. No more that 5 minutes later it would prove that no matter what I did I was going to get picked on. I was not the statuesque man mountain I am now, at the time I was the better part of 5′ 2″ tall and rotund to say the least. This drew the attention of the Jocks, my mildly ethic looks and distinct lack of ethnicity caught the attention of the Lebanese and Greek crowd, and the catty girls followed the jocks so you can guess where that went.
Through my 4 years that I spent at Calwell I was seen as the short, fat, nerdy kid. I was picked on, harassed, bullied both verbally and physically every day of my schooling life. This did grate on me, I did spend days, weeks, and months dreading the very thought of going to school. I did though continue to attend most day short of a physical ailment. And though it was emotionally and physically tough to do so, it did build resilience and toughened my exterior. I learnt how to read people better. I learnt how to take a punch. How to stand up to people at the right moment. I learnt how to survive in a less then pleasant environment. All of this while still trying to study and do well enough to pass and succeed.
My graduation from Calwell High School was an absolute blessing. It meant the end of torture, beating, bullying, and the start of something new. The reason why this was such a God send was years 11 and 12 were not compulsory for Canberra students, and most of the bullies dropped out, and the ones who stayed behind realised that between graduating December one year and coming back to school the next I had grown nearly a foot to a shade over 6 feet. So bullies were no longer an issue. Classes were interesting and engaging. Free lines were amazing. And life just got better. Not to mention the light was at the end of the tunnel. GRADUATION!!
Despite the release that was Graduation, what it really marked was the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. It meant responsibility, bills, cars, loans, bills, rent, mortgages, bills, and more responsibilities. And though I took these in my stride, securing a full time job straight out of college, securing my own home by the age of 19, and joining the military at 22. It certainly didn’t mean the transition from school to the real world was without issue. Poor financial choices, poor friend choices, and poor life choices in general meant I hurt my family for my own selfish need or gain, and that is never right. Yet another lesson learnt really.
Friendships are forged out of need, circumstance, opportunity, action, or some mixture of all. My high school friends were a mixture of all of the aforementioned. During year 7 the three ladies above where running a performing arts lunch project in which young teenagers explore their emotions, behaviours, and reactions to different scenarios that were plaguing young people. I participated because i was both interested and it provided a lunchtime safe haven. However, the friendship wouldn’t truly kick in till Tegan, the one in the hat, found me one day crying in the playground. You see I had a rather savage falling out with people who I though were my friends, were in actual fact they were just using me and teasing me about it behind my back. Tegan invited me to come and hang with her circle of friends, some of whom I knew, like Kate and Sophia (left to right in the photo). This friendship, though I never would have guessed it at the time, has survived trials and tribulations of high school, college, real life, mortgages, relationships, breakups, arguments, and every thing else you can imagine. Though I don’t talk to them as much as I used to, or should for that matter, these three are some of my closest friends. And I truly miss them all.
Teenage years are a mixture of hormones, bad choices, bad skin, bad people, bad circumstances, and bad more bad choices. I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn’t change a single part of my teenage years. Not the beating, not the dodgy school, not the dodgy girlfriends, the bad choices, the bad focusses in life, nor the body choice of first house to move to into. Every single choice and experience has made me the person I am today, and you should equally treasure your life choices for the same reason. I have totalled cars, blow up engines (yes plural), hurt people, hurt myself, pushed the wrong people away, held onto the wrong people, prioritised the wrong things, and as always made bad choices. I wouldn’t know what I know about now with cars if not for the little accidents along the way. I wouldn’t know what I know now about people if I didn’t have all of the negative experiences, and a whole lot of positive ones too. Don’t be too quick to move out of a situation, unless its not safe in which case leave that place yesterday, as it may be trying to teach you something. It may not make sense now, but and 10 or 20 years time, it may become relevant.
I may not have enjoyed every day of my teenage years, but it has made me the resilient, well rounded, educated, compassionate, caring, loving person I am today. I don’t regret a day, and neither should you. Enjoy the simpler times that are the teenage years, before everything becomes even more complicated.
Maintain the Rage