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This is what it's like to be an year-old woman in Aotearoa. At 14 I thought I was an adult. I thought I was making adult decisions… I got expelled from high school for doing drugs in the bathroom, I went to another school, then ran away to Dad's in Tauranga for half a year. I hated school so much. Girls schools are horrible, there's lots of bullying. Self harm was everywhere and lots of drugs. I was hanging out with older people so I'd get them for free… It was bad. A few of my friends from those days are in prison, one's pregnant, and I don't know where some of the others are.
I'm lucky Mum did help me. She stepped in and sent me to counselling which made me hate her more, but now looking back I'm grateful. Some of my friends don't have that. Their mums just got angry. And the centres where you go as a kid for counselling are the most horrible places. They don't feel supportive. So many of my mates have attempted suicide and even in hospital they still feel abandoned at their lowest low.
Mum and I went through a period where we hated each other. But we're like, best friends now. When I lived at home she was really protective so I'd sneak out. But now I've moved out and I'm living my own life, it's better. I love the teachers and the environment.
Now I don't rely on drugs to be happy, I can be satisfied with high marks. And if I had one word to sum up the future it's "hopeful! Dad kinda left us, so growing up my Mum was both my parents. Then Dad came back and moved us here Mum is still in Tonga. I used to be so mad at her for sending us off, but now I realise she wanted us to have opportunities. I'm trying not to show her that I'm missing her — she gets sick when she knows we are.
I'm trying to be tough. Eighteen is scary because it's the age when you're expected to know what you're doing. And being an Islander, there's extra pressure to be a certain way. My family have all these expectations because they think I'm smart and will go to uni My older siblings dropped out and didn't go, so the expectation is on me because I'm the last one in high school.