2016

2016 has been a rollercoaster of a year both on a personal and general level. Personally I have experienced some really amazing highs, but also really bad lows as well. This is what you should expect in life, and it’s how we look after ourselves when we get to those lows that’s really important.

 

My year started out with a self care holiday, but during this holiday I was also a part of a team organising the ILGA Oceania PROUD conference, and the Youth pre-conference to go with it. So as you can tell, I struggled with the concept of stepping back and relaxing and looking after myself. Luckily as the year progressed that changed, and I got to a point where I needed to step back from things because it was affecting so many other parts of my life.

I don’t really have the time to list out everything I have done this year, but instead I will highlight some key achievements. This way I can talk about the highs and the lows of the year and what I have leant from them.

  • I was on the organising team for ILGA Oceania Conference: PROUD 2016. This was an amazing opportunity, because it was the first time I helped organise a major conference on much more of an international platform. It came with a lot of challenges but it was definitely something I enjoyed and learnt a lot from. From this experience I also met so many amazing new people who have helped support me and the work I am doing.
The team from Proud.

 

  • I met with organisers from Wellington Pride Festival, which I want to highlight. From this meeting several major outcomes have occurred for Wellington Pride Festival. Firstly they now have a range of flags representing an array of identities, not just the rainbow flag. Secondly, it meant I got to join the organising team for Wellington Pride 2017. I got to join as a youth representative and we are currently working towards organising some amazing events for young people.

 

  • I organised and ran the kitchen at Shift Hui which is a national hui run and organised by InsideOUT. Shift Hui 2016 hosted 160 people. This was the first time I had to step back and just accept I couldn’t do everything. I organised and ran the kitchen which went very well, but lots of others things happened and it was very stressful which in turn created a domino effect in my volunteer life.

 

  • I have run several education workshops for various organisations and local groups. These include a national PE and Health conference, workshops at local schools, and the Commonwealth Young Leaders conference: These were all really great opportunities; reaching out to people and educating them and watching the aha! moments never gets old. This is particularly so when working with young people and just seeing them smile and knowing that their identity is valid and being recognised.

 

  • I have attended several conferences in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, and Bangkok!!! Traveling is always fun, and the fact that I got to go to Bangkok as well was so amazing. Through each trip I have met new people, caught up with old friends, seen spectacular sights, had fun, and done a smidge of shopping. Shout out to my friend Laura (http://nzbloggers.co.nz) who has a bed waiting for me whenever I am in Auckland and is always there to help and support me.

 

  • One of my favourite things is working with people and organisations on what they aren’t doing well and working out ways to strengthen their events. This year I worked with several organisations to help do just that. Of course it is up to each organisation which suggestions they take on board, and while some have not listened, it’s exciting to see where these events and organisations will go in 2017.

 

  • I did a handful of media projects, some were for friends and others were for “mainstream” media outlets. I’m not a fan of the media and sharing my story, but I don’t like the media speaking with and manipulating vulnerable young people so I would rather offer up myself then pass it on to someone else. But even when I do interact with the media, I still feel bad about it and rarely look back on these encounters with happiness.

Oh hello Sunday Star Times.

 

  • I moved into doing lots of governance roles for an array of organisations. I started the year as Treasurer for InsideOUT, then stepped up to Co-chair after a couple of months. It didn’t take long to realise I just couldn’t do as much as I was doing, so I resigned. But since then I have also joined Out Wellington which organises Wellington Pride Festival, and Outerspaces. I have also been supporting other organisations and people setting up new organisations.

 

  • I also won a Youth Changemaker award from the Ministry of Youth Development, which was nice. It was also a little surreal because I don’t do this work for the recognition. I do it to help empower and inspire young trans people, and to remind them that their life is just beginning and that they can do anything they want.

 

I’ve done so much in 2016, and I am sure that in 2017 I will get to do lots more. I have lots of goals and dreams for this year and I can’t wait to see what happens.

High school drop out?!

This morning on Facebook I got the notification to show me photos and posts I made 1 year ago 2 years ago or what not on this day. Low and behold Facebook reminded me, exactly 2 years ago today I left school early. Below is the photo I uploaded onto Facebook with a little witty status in true Bella form.

“Walking out of school for the last time and the only thing I can think of is how High School Musical gave me unrealistic expectations on what High school was going to be like”1557733_10204121716549435_6929510174195807375_n

I think it is really important to talk about what it means to leave school early and how it isn’t really the end of the world like everyone assumes. I left in year 13 and I had been wanting to leave for a good couple of months; my grades weren’t great and I just didn’t have a solid social group of friends, which I think is what really makes your last year. I knew that if I left I needed to be smart and proactive – I would need to have a plan and make sure I moved straight into a job. So I got a job at KFC and planned on saving to do a makeup course the next year. Of course my plans changed and I never did the make up course, but I did do a beautician course, which in hindsight I really didn’t want to do. I did it because I wanted to tell people I was actually doing something with my life.

Working at KFC isn’t the most glamorous job, and I know a lot of people looked down on me because I left school early to work at KFC (rude!) but for me, KFC was never my end goal it was just a start. It is also important to remember that even if I was still working at KFC today that it is totally fine, and a completely valid job. I never wanted to stay there though, I couldn’t handle the subtle judgment I got from so many people, including people in my family because I worked there.

Again in true Bella form I quit with a beautiful sympathy card which reads:

Dearest the team at KFC,

Thanks all so much for the great times over the last year and a half. Well as good as KFC gets. Catch you on the flip side.

Bella

PS: I quit, hope it was obvious.

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I am now an administrator at a great little company, with an awesome boss. I’m also on a couple of different boards and generally just doing my own thing. I don’t regret leaving high school early, and I don’t regret not going to university. I can still wait till I’m a little older and apply for special entrance if I wanted to go to Uni, but I don’t think I do. The point of this post is, if you aren’t enjoying school, then you can leave and still do great things. Everyone says stay in school and they make it sound like you will have a terrible life if you leave early, but I think it is more important to listen to yourself and figure out what is working for you. If school isn’t working then think about what it actually is you want to be doing.

I hope this helps some people if they are struggling at school, because I know school isn’t easy. Sometimes it isn’t even just the classes or the teachers but just the whole social aspect, having to see people everyday thing can be difficult for some.

Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and you can do anything.