“Can you see what I can see, the future? Do you feel the way I feel in this life?
Do you believe in what I believe in? Time of change to set, A new feel, So –
Come to me, and take my hand, Come to me, and take my hand
Come to me, and take my hand, Take my hand, we’ll share the fall..”
(Roni Size, Reprazent 1997)
After I attended High school – firstly at Opunake High School and then in my final year New Plymouth Girls High School (where I received a B Bursary), I chose to go to Wellington University. After looking at the various subject options I decided I wanted to study English Literature and Theatre and Film, as there was a practical Drama paper in 3rd year I was particularly intrigued by.
There was a bit of hype around my going to University. I was the first person on the Scott family side to be accepted for – and attend university. It was definitely expected of me, so much so that I never really thought about what would happen were I to go to university and say – not like it, or do very well.
I remember my first weeks as I adjusted to this dramatically new life. I felt anxiety at wanting to fit in, the nerves of making friends in my hostel, trying not to get lost as I made my way to various lectures and tutorials around campus. Victoria and Wellington itself struck me as being very grey and concrete. The general meeting place was a communal square surrounded by the library and various other buildings, which was permeated by the smell of cigarette smoke as people collected on the steps to drink coffee and eat lunch. And there were pigeons everywhere. Fat, thin, some strong and bold, others timid and with mangled feet that we could only speculate what from. I stayed close to those people I knew from High School or were familiar with through their being from Taranaki, but I also remember spending a bit of time on my own just sitting and observing. My peers and I were instantly made aware of the hierarchy of those that were ‘second and third years’ and those of us that were freshies.
Needless to say it was a very different place from my farm up in Taranaki.
I found lectures quite boring and half the time my closest friend Sarah and I (who took a lot of the same classes) spent that time checking out boys, pouring over shops in the area, and trying to stay awake during class. I remember being so tired at one Education lecture that started very early in the morning, that I fell asleep with my head on my writing pad. I only woke when people around me started to get up at the end of class, gathering their things as I lifted my head from a pool of drool soaked paper.
It also seemed to be a lot of drinking, eating crap food, going clubbing and attending many, many parties. Other than trying out for a comedy/music performance being held by the student union (I failed to make the grade), and spending a week in the winter skiing with my cousins Phillipa and Caro at the notoriously steep Craigieburn mountain range in Christchurch, I didn’t join any drama clubs, choirs or sports teams. Someone tried to talk to me about writing for the local paper ‘Salient’ but I didn’t feel like I had enough skills.
For the first time in my life I gained weight and lost a lot of sleep, drinking nearly every night of the week and eating unhealthy food.
We went out every weekend clubbing, but to be honest I found a lot of the clubs tedious and full of rugby heads. I discovered ‘La Luna’ where they played Hip Hop and Trip Hop and a cool little Jazz club with live Jazz music. I used to part ways with my friends and go off to these places often on my own, just so I could listen to some decent music. It didn’t matter that ‘Everyone’ was going to St Johns – a huge mainstream club down by the water, I would rather be down Cuba street hanging in Cuba Cuba listening to a DJ spin some alternative sounds.
However, my main problem with this time in my life was that I struggled to know who I was at Uni or what it was I really wanted to do with my life. When you are surrounded by so many different people going to classes and socialising with them all, it can make life all the more confusing. I might like different music to my friends, but I still liked my friends! I might not like certain people in my social circle but you just had to roll with it because you saw them almost every day.
My friends and I attended a few live shows while in Wellington, The Beastie Boys were a particular highlight, touring their Ill Communication album which is still a stock favourite. I saw The Violent Femmes whom I had loved since High School. It was also a show I got beaten up at afterwards when some homies who were loitering on the street heard me singing some of the songs from the concert and decided to poke fun at me. Me being a loud mouth and rather quick to retort hit back at them with some choice words which needless to say they did not like.
I attended my much loved Pearl Jam – when my friend Suzanne and I took a car ride up to Auckland with a complete stranger, paying him petrol money and having a slight car crash just before we reached the city! We got there though and crowd surfed our little socks off, even going back the following night to see them from the back of the theatre to take in the whole musical ‘experience’. The big one of course was ‘The Big Day Out’, which happened every summer and took in a whole array of bands. Highlights included seeing the memorising Tricky, energetic Offspring and I will never forget – Prodigy. They had just exploded onto the scene and played the most hype set I had experienced in my life at that stage with the entire crowd losing their shit.
As my first year at uni finished I went back to Taranaki to see my friends and family. I spent a good few weeks hanging out with my school friend Carey up in New Plymouth who had been studying radio broadcasting and was DJing on a great new local station ‘The Most FM’, playing brilliant alternative music every day.
I tired to get a job waitressing and stayed with my Aunty Rosemary and Uncle Frank in New Plymouth, but nothing took off. I couldn’t really be bothered trying too hard if I’m honest, as I was young and out to party and have a good time.
In my second year in Wellington I lived with three guys who were nice enough but untidy and rather geeky. They thought I was cool – which shows just how geeky they were! They were also all older than me, but as one of them drove a car, it meant we could do things like take off for the weekend to go skiing up Mount Ruapehu.
I would definitely define my second year at Uni through the amount of weed I smoked and the music I got into. During High School I had never smoked weed, it was more about drinking and developing a taste for Marlborough Lights cigarettes. But Uni was a time for experimenting so it seemed better late than never to give the green a chance.
I discovered Tricky and Radiohead, Blur and obviously Portishead. I still loved my Hip Hop, but being the mid 90’s it was all about Brit pop and Trip Hop for me. My good friend Johnse and I went and saw Massive Attack live down at the docks (which was amazing), then hit our favourite late night club Tatou. This was one haunt where I felt comfortable. The music was almost all dance music, (Shouts out to Clinton Smiley!) and I loved the big long red velvet curtains you passed through to get in, the fact the crowd was a lot older, dressed alternatively, and the club stayed open till 6.a.m.
There were never any rugby heads or preppy kids in there. It was all alternative, edgy people with no agenda other than to dance the night away to good music. I had always loved experimenting with fashion and in my second year at University ‘Grunge’ was huge. I had two pairs of Doc Martens – first a bottle green that my Mum ordered for me from the UK, then I got a cherry red pair. We all wore beanies and had dark red lips, chokers and long satin skirts with oversized denim jackets. I look at my wardrobe currently and have to laugh – 90s fashion is in at the moment and my wardrobe definitely has some versions of those very things in there – albeit updated versions!
I would say overall that while University was fun, I never really felt like I belonged. This is probably due to the fact that at that stage in my life, there was a constant pressure from family, teachers, peers, to know what you want to do with your life – and unlike my classmates – I just didn’t know. Looking back, while there were certain aspects of the whole experience that I did enjoy – it probably was a bit of a waste of time for me. I went because I felt like I should, but I honestly don’t think that I was mature enough to appreciate the knowledge I was being offered… or perhaps it was being offered in a way that I just didn’t relate to.
I remember walking out of a Philosophy class feeling a deep sense of panic that I couldn’t comprehend the themes that were being discussed there on the first day. I decided to change to a different subject immediately. I also recall sitting in a film tutorial feeling rather small and naive after expressing confusion at not being able to ‘see’ the overall concept that the film was supposed to embody. People literally laughed at me. I felt frustrated and angry that in one respect I was encouraged to have an opinion, but then was laughed at because it was a much simpler one to those around me.
What I would like to go on record saying now and that I hope I remember should I ever have children, is that in your late teens, or throughout your 20’s it is completely okay to not know what you want to do with your life. Hell some people spend years of their adult life changing their direction trying to find something that ‘fits’ and still don’t!
University used to be about gaining qualifications for a job, but these days – unless you are going for a job as a doctor or lawyer, or something that requires many years of dedicated study, you can come out of it and still be unable to find a job, or a direction to go in.
We put so much pressure on young people to have this sort of clear definitive path set out for their future that it can create a lot of confusion and anxiety. Again in hindsight (isn’t it a wonderful thing) I probably should have looked at taking a music paper, or gone travelling, or applied straight for a Drama school. Music was such an intrinsic part of me it seems strange this was not a path I thought to take.. But again – the idea of not going to University was never offered to me.
I feel that when you are a teenager, life should still be about having fun and not growing up too fast. You are essentially still a child. Your 20’s are more likely to be the time in your life when you have the experience and courage to try new things and be open to new challenges. You are more likely to go through your 20’s carving out your future and finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are than when you are a teenager – simply because you are in a better position to!
Its okay to not want to go to college or University, its okay to try many different things before you settle on something, as long as you give it a go and give it your all each time.
I think it was obvious to my parents that University wasn’t offering me what I really wanted in life – and that was to play upon my strengths in Drama and Music, and to be somewhere where this was the main focus.
Luckily for me, a new door was opened when I (unintentionally) failed the papers needed to get me into my 3rd year and into the performance class I had been intrigued by right from the start. While I was devastated at the time, I quickly realised that everything happens for a reason, and my path was about to alter.
It was my second summer home from Uni. I was working at ‘Vertigo’ the surf store in Oakura, living with my brother Craig and his girlfriend and spending my evenings surfing and playing touch rugby. While visiting my parents, Mum and I sat down and talked about the idea of me auditioning for some drama schools. We picked out the three key schools in the country, UniTech in Auckland, Toi Whakaarei in Wellington and NASDA in Christchurch.
While the side of me that was comfortable with where I lived and with my current friends- hoped I might get into Toi Whakaarei due to it being in Wellington, I was also open to the idea of living in a whole new location. I have always been this way.
Back when I was a little kid there was an exodus of students from Awatuna Primary to other schools around the district due to a terrible head teacher with some seriously questionable teaching methods. A lot of my friends chose to go together to the school of Riverlea, but I chose to go on my own to Te Kiri. It was the same for my final year in High School when I chose to leave Opunake High (which had a strong sport focus) – for New Plymouth Girls which had a fantastic Arts and Music department. I liked the idea of starting again as there is something wonderfully exciting about beginning anew, a chance to put behind past insecurities created by old relationships or enemies, A chance to see your life with a fresh perspective. Plus I get bored with the same view all the time.. This is probably why I have never lived in one city for longer than five years!
So, despite not having a Drama coach, I picked out two audition pieces and a couple of songs, and Mum and I set about driving around the country to audition for my three chosen schools, as each application to audition was accepted.
The audition for NASDA in Christchurch was held in the holidays in a hall in the town of Palmerston North. I had a couple of old school friends living there, and stupidly spent the night before my audition getting off my face drinking at a club and smoking cigarettes. I stayed the night with some hot guy I’d had a fling with before at Uni, and when my Mum came to pick me up, (I had made her stay in a motel – yes I know – I am a terrible child) I was in such a rush I didn’t even have time to shower! Still, It didn’t seem to affect my audition too much as I received the news that I had been accepted! Suddenly the reality of leaving university was upon me, and should I choose to go to Christchurch, I would be living not just in a whole new city but a different island! I would be a long way from my family now.
Though I was nervous I was also incredibly thrilled. Finally I would be living out my dream to go to a school where everyone was into acting and dance and music, my own ‘Fame’ fantasy realised. I had an opportunity to live in a new city and despite knowing no one (bar my second cousins who lived there) – the song my heart was singing was one that for the first time in a long time – sounded completely in tune to me.