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. 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 housetruck renovation project (read: empty truck with a bed in it).
No matter how people asked how I was doing, I would say I was doing great. I was on my own and away from a rough family environment. I was still going through school and getting good grades. What did I have to complain about? 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 handed 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 New Zealand, 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 soon learned how to make it stretch. 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.
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 24 years old, happily married with 1 and 1/2 kids and about to buy our own homestead. 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 owning acreage, I have never let my living situation stop me from making myself more self sufficient.
I want to see as many women as possible succeed in their venture to become self sufficient and begin their own homesteads. No one should ever feel like they’re not good enough, that they don’t have what it takes, that they are stuck in a situation that prevents them from becoming more self reliant. Every woman 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 too.
Over and out,