24th October 2017

Speech | Portfolio Piece

The years of being a teenager is some of the most important years of a person’s life. You start to get older and more mature, along with picking up important responsibilities and in general preparing yourself for the long journey of adulthood. Amongst all of that, a teenager will have experiences that will teach them lessons which they will hold for life. In his speech I will be outlining what important experiences I’ve encountered in my life and what I learned from them.

An experience that I’ve had in my life in which I’ve learned from is my most intense tennis match I’ve ever played, which was all the way back in 2013. I was playing against my former Southland team mate, Derek Bruin, that I used to play with when I lived in Southland. However this time I would be representing Southern Lakes, which is made up of the Wanaka & Queenstown. I had also won the Wanaka open doubles title with Derek prior to this event, so not only was he a great opponent, but a great friend. This is was part of a yearly event between Southern Lakes and Southland with three age groups – 12’s, 14’s and 16’s. It would also happen to be the last match of the day and whoever won would win the event for their team, because between all the age groups Southland and Southern Lakes were tied on 12 wins each. In the first set he was absolutely demolishing me, completely wiping me off the court. He won the first set 6-0 and I thought I had not a hope in hell of winning, I thought I’d be lucky to get a game off him.

During the break between the end of the first set and the start of the second set my coach comes over to me and says that I have to hit to his backhand, as is forehand is lethal. So that is exactly what I did. Shot after shot went to his backhand and he was solidly hitting them back. Constant 15 shot rallies were occurring and it was the biggest grind of my/ life. This was good for me though because at least he wasn’t hitting winners off every second shot like he would on his forehand. It took a lot of mental strength and discipline to keep hitting it to one side of the court because I so desperately wanted to try and hit a winning shot to end the rally but I had to stick to the game plan. About an hour later I ended up clinching the set 7-5. The crowd was cheering me on and my mum and dad were both so happy that I had pulled it back. In the end I won the 3rd set tiebreak 10-3 as I had broken him. The main lesson I learnt from this is perseverance and to never give up. I hardly had hope of even winning a game after the first set, and wasn’t even dreaming of winning, however once I had a game plan I stuck to it and tried my best to keep persevering. It goes to show that if something isn’t working for you then you can change your ways to try and make things work, in this situation it was me hitting to his backhand. I’ve used this lesson many times, for example with school assignments where I’ve been struggling with the task but I changed my game plan by getting help from the teacher instead of trying to do it all on my own. Moving on now you might have heard me say that my mum and my dad were both so happy for me which I am personally extremely proud of.

However that would be one of the few moments I could say that. Because in the following year in August my parents would divorce. This hit me like a brick wall. Especially because my Dad had just got back from a 10 week trip to the states. My parents did argue with each other however I never thought that they would actually divorce. This put me in a world of sadness and made me into a particularly glum person. It was even worse not having my 2 sisters around to talk to because my oldest sister Jordan was on her OE in Western Europe and my other sister Ashleigh was riding horses over in America. Basically I was left to deal with everything first hand. Divorces aren’t uncommon in this day and age and they affect most of us in the same ways. For example you can no longer experience memories with both parents at the same time – such as sharing successes with both parents, like the tennis game I’ve previously mentioned. Also you can’t go to both parents at the same time for advice, and you also worry that what one parent says might not be agreed on by the other. Another concerning factor is that you don’t know how much you should say about your other parents life. However this situation has taught me how to cope with sadness and to overcome it, which is a good thing to have as it meant that I could help out a couple of friends who were also having relatable issues. I think that it also made me a better person as I was able to cope with my dread and be happier at school a couple of weeks after my parents splitting up. Instead of me thinking to myself, “I am going to be a happier person,” it was more of an unconscious decision as my emotions had settled after a while. From this time in my life I learned how to look after myself more, even though I was only 14. I was able to manage my emotions and think of the positives ahead. 

Later on in 2015 it became easier to deal with my parents divorce with as I was getting older and was getting more mature. However, there was a time in September where I had invited 2 of my friends to come over for tea on my 16th Birthday. It was on a Wednesday so they would only come over for tea and then leave, as it was a school night. After school I got a text from one of my friends saying he couldn’t go, and then at about 4:30 I got another text from my second friend who was supposed to go saying that he couldn’t go either as he had a family dinner to go to. I was absolutely broken. My two friends that I invited said they couldn’t go. So many questions circled around in my head. Did I even have proper friends? Was I not a likeable person? Should I even go to school if no one likes me? Even still thinking about it to this day I still feel slight sadness about it. That’s because your 16th birthday is meant to be this huge deal and quite often on TV you see these kids who get fancy cars for their birthday. I obviously wasn’t asking for a Ferrari, in fact I wasn’t even expecting a present. All I wanted was to have a nice dinner with a couple of friends but that had been taken away from me. If I couldn’t even have that, then what could I have? After this whole situation I learned to never take friends for granted again, and they are some of the most important people in your life. After this experience I thought about others more and became more aware of my actions and the consequences that I could make from those actions. I’ve never been a bad person and had always thought of the consequences of my actions anyway, but that wasn’t only if I thought I was going to do something bad. I now was cautious of what I said to others and my actions towards them.

Today I want you to understand how crucial it is to take in the important things in life and learn from your experiences. These experiences can teach us valuable lessons, even if the experiences are negative. I also believe that it is important to appreciate the people in your lives, as you don’t realize how important they are until they aren’t there. I hope that you all have been challenged today and that you can learn from my experiences and make yourself the best possible person you can be.44

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