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 In Community Blogs, Wellbeing

Hey everyone!
My name is April, I’m 16 and currently in school. At the beginning of 2020, I took part in a camp run by Burn Bright.

Going into the new year I knew some things in my life had to change. Before this camp, I was someone who prioritised just about anything over myself and what I knew was going to be good for me. I struggled a lot with self-sabotage and understanding why I would constantly set myself back in life.

I was quite a popular, outgoing and confident girl with lots of friends who I loved to go out with, I prioritised partying with my girls over most things, often overlooking my family and taking “fun” too far. I had developed a reputation as someone who didn’t behave and had a serious attitude, I was very shut off and unwelcoming to most people outside of my group. I had a complete lack of care for anything and anyone including myself.

I had known for a while that my behaviour needed to improve. I wasn’t standing by my core values and beliefs which as a result had seriously strained my relationship with my family. I wanted to be myself again and prove not only to myself but to others that I was capable of pursuing my goals and turning my life around, but I didn’t feel like I knew where to start.
One of the teachers at my school was the first to introduce me to this camp and I, being the incredibly stubborn person I am, wasn’t overly excited about the thought of spending four days of the summer holidays back at school. I was reluctant but one of the Burn Bright crew said I had to buy them lunch if I didn’t sign up, that was enough for me to finally just do it.

I knew this camp wasn’t something I would be expected to participate in. Honestly, I even shocked myself by signing up. Although I may have been pushed into it unwillingly at the beginning, I can confidently say that although I am not sure what happened to me, it has changed my life for the better. It was the push I needed to step into a new chapter of my life.
When people ask me what singular experience happened at camp that was so influential to me, I struggle to find the words to explain because I am not too sure myself.

But if I could summarise all that I learnt in 2020 that had such an effect on my life these would be the four points:

  1. To open up and allow myself to be vulnerable
  2. You are not defined by nor need to fit into any stereotypes or reputation
  3. Own my actions
  4. Prioritise my happiness and future

These four things have impacted all aspects of my life, no one single factor was the reason for my success so far this year, everything I learned had a positive knock-on effect, on not only my behaviour but my outlook and thought processes.

I didn’t like my reputation of the typical “party girl” that I was thought to be. I had reached a point where I did not want to be limited by my past wrongdoings, I have made mistakes in my past but there is far more to me than just what I have done wrong. The first step to challenge this reputation was simply taking part in camp and showing up on the first day. This camp was the first time I had allowed myself to be vulnerable. Opening up to my group, I was hit with the realization that I had been missing out on beautiful friendships with so many people because I hadn’t been vulnerable and therefore wasn’t an easy person to approach. It was a pivotal moment in my life when the Burn Bright team and my group accepted that I had made mistakes but they, to my surprise, were still willing to get to know me.

It made me realise that for things to change at school, I had to open myself up to more people and be vulnerable so my teachers and peers could see that there was more to me than just the “party girl” I was perceived to be. Whilst I still do love having fun with my friends, I have been determined to make sure I don’t let history repeat itself.
I have to thank my gorgeous group for not only laughing at my jokes but for creating a safe environment that allowed me to be so open. Because of their warmth and acceptance, I gained the confidence to continue to own my actions and be vulnerable beyond camp. This vulnerability that I now possessed allowed me to be who I am, I didn’t feel like I had to fit my previous persona and I no longer felt limited or judged by my defiant behaviour in the past.

School, in particular, has changed dramatically for me, my effort and as a result, my grades have improved, and I have made so many new friendships I never would’ve thought possible. For someone who hated school so much that I even tried to move in Year 10, to suddenly be thriving was something I don’t think anyone expected.
I prioritised myself and my future for the first time and now I can say I am proud of myself for the progress I have made already this year. My relationships with everyone; family, friends, teachers and most importantly myself have finally reflected the type of person I am. Camp solidified my values, beliefs and the type of woman I want to and am growing up to be and reignited my passion for connecting with people and doing what I love. The environment allowed me to express the person I always have been deep down in all areas of my life. I am eternally grateful to Burn Bright and my school for the experiences I had and the way it impacted my life.

I am truly happy with where I am now.

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