Billie | Tolaga Bay, Gisborne

“The hardest thing for me is communication, just with people, my family, because I never know what people are thinking, and I know people find it hard to understand me as well. So, it’s a bit of a barrier for me.

So, I don’t really like talking. It’s just something I don’t do a lot, but when you’re going on in life, communication is key for growing. So, at the end of the day, you’ve still got to talk. 

The only thing you can do is just to put yourself out there and talk, even if people don’t agree with what you say, or your beliefs. You’ve just got to get out there, you’re never going to know until you try, and that’s been the biggest learning curve for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to meet people who understand me, and who have been able to guide me through my life into knowing who I am as a person, and I’ve come to really appreciate the people that I’ve met. They’re all so different, and they’ve all got different styles of communication. It’s just been a whole learning curve for me, and I’m still learning today. I work as a data analyst, so I don’t do a lot of verbal talking. Mine’s all statistics. 

I’m just grateful for the people that I’ve met, and who have taught me how to communicate. You know? They’ve brought me out of my shell, and I find it easier just to talk about me in general, too. I’ve struggled a lot doing that because personally, I feel like I can’t go out and talk to people purely about myself because I feel like that’s too selfish. I need another reason to go and talk to someone, but with the people I’ve met in my life, they’ve identified that there’s no shame in talking about yourself if you’re struggling. It’s the only way you can get through it. I’m just thankful for the friends and family that I have, and without them I wouldn’t have been the person that I am today, just straight up.

My message to anyone who’s growing up is just to be as strong as you can, put yourself out there. Even if you get rejected, you’re going to get rejected plenty of times, but it’s up to you whether or not you’re going to stand up afterwards, and whether to not you’re going to keep trying. Life is hard, but everything you go through is worth it. Everything you get from it is so worth it. So, the harder you try the better you’ll come out, the better your life will seem. Always stay on the positive side, because negativity will get you nowhere. 

I grew up here in Tolaga, I went to school here. I come from a family of seven. I’m the oldest of all the kids. There’s a bit of responsibility there, but when I was 11, we moved over to Australia, did a bit of the schooling there, and that was different. Very different lifestyle compared to Tolaga east coast of New Zealand, the big city life in Aussie. Other than that, it was a pretty good life growing up. I still ran into the common misfortune every kid does, and I’ve only just moved back to New Zealand recently, and I can’t complain. It’s the best lifestyle ever. I’m happy to be back, because Australia was fun, but nothing compares to New Zealand. Nothing compares to home. 

When I was younger, growing up over in Australia, I was bullied a lot in high school, purely because of my looks. I don’t speak very much, and when I did, people questioned where I was from, and that was really hard for me, because I know where I come from. I’m from New Zealand. I’m Kiwi, and I’m Māori, because I live by the culture. Being bullied throughout high school, and there not being many different ethnicities in my high school, the majority were just Australians, a couple of Aboriginals, but nothing really else at the time, when I first started there. So, the hardest thing for me was actually getting out there and telling people who I am, to stop their judgement. So I got bullied a lot, but that’s okay, because I’m still here, still smiling, and if I hadn’t have been bullied, I wouldn’t be the person that I am, and I wouldn’t see life the way that I do. I wouldn’t change it, I wouldn’t change any of the hard times that I’ve been through in high school, because that pushed me to communicate with people, and I managed to find the people who just meant the world to me. I was lucky enough to meet people in high school like that.”

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