I know what it’s like to feel lost and vulnerable. To feel like you have no control over what is happening in your life. When I was 16, living at home was no longer an option. Unfortunately, when you’re 16, living on your own isn’t much more of an option either. That situation should of been the worst time I’ve ever been through. Instead, being homeless taught me how to live.
Be Thankful For What You Have
I’m going to start by saying that I was lucky. Within the space of a few months, I went through staying with some lovely strangers (though my anxiety and love of horror movies had me in a constant state of insomnia), sleeping on a couch, living in a caravan before ending up in a house truck renovation project (read: empty truck with a bed in it). It was horrible.
I was thankful I never spent a night on the streets. I wasn’t put in the position that I felt I had to sell my body and my life was never put in danger. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about a large portion of those who find themselves homeless. I met people through Youth Programs who had been in this position and my heart truly broke for them. This lesson is something that I still remind myself, even when I have challenging days.
The Bad Days Help You To Appreciate The Good Days
The reality was that there were often days that I wouldn’t eat. I would cry because I had no idea how long it was before I had to move again. When I thought about my future, it was pretty hard to see anything improving. Anxiety and depression become personality traits, not something I was going through.
I must not of been as good at hiding it as I thought. At one stage, I had a teacher pull me aside after class and hand me a bag of food. She said nothing but had a sympathetic smile on her face. I smiled and said thank you, unable to stop the tears from welling in my eyes. Little did she know that it was the first time I had eaten in two days.
In that moment, I stopped being angry. There were good people in the world that wanted to help me, not because they had ulterior motives, but because they were good people. All of a sudden I had a totally different perspective and began to truly appreciate what I did have. People who cared enough to help me and wanted to know I was going to be alright.
Money Is A Tool, Not Evil
In New Zealand (where I grew up), there is a pretty good welfare system in place in comparison to other areas in the world. For as long as I stayed at school, I was granted a Youth Benefit. While this helped to pay my expenses, it was extremely tight. I quickly learned how to make it stretch.
To say money is evil is to deny what it is capable of doing. Money was able to keep a roof over my head and food in my mouth. Sure, it wasn’t much, but it definitely made a difference between me having that or nothing at all.
This lesson has meant that I’m able to see the future that money could help me achieve, rather than having a negative association with it. Money meant that my husband was able to spend time at home with us rather than working every moment of the day. It meant that we got to have beautiful moments as a family.
Used responsibly, money can give you the life you want instead of anchoring you in a life you hate.
When You Really Want Something, You Make It Happen
From a place of self-pity grew a fire to turn my situation into something better. I had grown up around farmers and DIY enthusiasts – I already had an idea as to what I was going to do. One day, I was going to own my own homestead. I would make sure that I never felt that vulnerable or helpless ever again.
I researched when I could access a computer. Every book I could get my hands on in the library ended up checked out. There were free self sufficiency classes at the local green learning hub that had my name on every sign up form. I would spend hours drawing schemes and sketches in my books, planning about how I was going to make soap and my own clothes, and grow food and milk my own cow.
I still keep looking forward, even if it is an ever changing plan. Having something to work towards gives me a direction. This in itself was often enough to pull me out of my darkest days.
Tomorrow Is A New Chance To Live
Life got worse before it got better, but because of that burning desire to be self sufficient, I always found a way through the obstacles. Today, I am now happily married with 2 kids and looking to buy our homestead with little to no mortgage.
I have taken every class I could, gone through growing my vegetables on a balcony in pots, brewing cider on the kitchen table in the middle of an apartment and made my soap while balancing bowls on the edge of a small laundry sink. While I am still heading towards the life I sketched all those years ago, I have never let my situation stop me from trying to get there.
I want to see as many people as possible succeed in their venture to live the life they dream of. No one should ever feel like they’re not good enough, that they don’t have what it takes or that they are stuck in a situation that prevents them from becoming more self reliant.
Everyone deserves to feel strong, independent and know that they are not only capable, but see that they are powerhouses that can do anything.
I made the decision to begin my journey years ago and because of it, I am empowered and feel like I can take on the world. You can do the same.