Dan's discovery of self-confidence - Outward Bound

Dan's discovery of self-confidence

Fundraising, Life after OB

Kia ora, my name is Dan. I’m 19.

I want to share my story with you and thank the kind donors who made my journey to Outward Bound possible.

Now, I am a young adult in control of my future. And after years of feeling like ‘the poor kid’, I know the meaning of self-value and self-belief.

I come from a family where things have always been pretty tough. We never had the kind of money that the other kids at school had. I was always seen as the poor kid – and was teased about it all through school. 

My last year at high school was particularly tough, and I thought a lot about suicide and self-harm as an escape from a life that I hated and had no control over.

Eventually, I called the Youthline help line and they got me a counsellor. That led to face to face counselling which helped me face up to the things that made my life miserable and began to take control of who I am. I became aware that I wasn’t alone, and that there were so many other teenagers in situations far worse than mine.

I made the decision to help other people and became a Youthline helpline counsellor so I could help other teenagers.

One day, one of the supervisors at Youthline said they had been given a scholarship by generous Outward Bound donors and had put me forward for it. It sounded like it would be a cool thing to do, but I didn’t expect anything to come of it. Outward Bound was something that only lucky kids got to do.

So, when a couple of days later I got a call from Outward Bound telling me I’d scored a scholarship, I said “are you for real?”, I was so shocked!

I was really excited about going. I kind of knew it was an opportunity for me to take some pretty big steps forward in my own life – maybe even to come home with a whole new perspective on who I am and where I’m heading with my life.

The first thing I did when I arrived at Anakiwa was volunteer to be a speaker at the pōwhiri. I was really nervous, but I’d met a few cool people on the ferry over, so I was feeling good, and I wanted to share how grateful and honoured I felt to be there.

Turned out most of those on the ferry were in my watch – we were Hillary 656. We quickly became a tight group of twelve doing Outward Bound in the middle of winter.

I’m not a big fan of being out of my comfort zone so kayaking and doing the barrel rolls in freezing cold water were not super fun but I’m glad I did it and I’d definitely say I’m more resilient now.

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I consistently struggled with the mental aspects at Outward Bound – nothing was physically beyond me but once I got negative thoughts into my head it became a real challenge for me to get through an activity.

Like our first day at sea on the cutter. We were rowing for about 8 hours and that was so tough. That night things got worse when we had to get ashore with our tents and we were up to our ankles in mud.

I just sat staring out at the sea. It was the one time where I thought OB had defeated me. I was thinking “I’m out of here man, I can’t take it anymore”.

But then one of my kind watchmates came over with a hot drink and drew me back into the group. I’m so pleased they did because on the next day it was just amazing.

We were sailing on our own, though the instructors were on a launch nearby in case it all went wrong. It was dark and stormy, it was raining, and there were massive gusts of wind.

We had the sails up and we were flying across the water. I felt so alive!

And more incredible was that I was skipper! Despite the conditions, everyone put their trust in me.

I’ve always had low self-confidence and doubted my ability to do anything up to standard. Being in a watch and having 11 other people rely on me improved my confidence and self-esteem 100%.

Since Outward Bound, I’m much more confident at work and with new people. Little things that would have stressed me out in the past, like getting caught in the rain, no longer bother me.

I just think what’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter. Don’t sweat the small stuff man!

I’m currently working two jobs and applying for an electrical apprenticeship. I’m in the process of getting all the paperwork ready for it. I hope to find out pretty soon if I’ve got it.

I know Outward Bound improved my emotional fortitude – a lot. I mean to the point where my mental health has improved considerably since I got back. Knowing that everything in the end is going to be okay. I can look after myself because I did Outward Bound and I can do it again.

My whānau and friends can see a change in me too. I’m now looking forward to (hopefully) starting an apprenticeship and being there on the end of a phone at Youthline helping others as much as I can.

People need to be given the chance to break free of the things that are holding them back and to realise their true potential.

I want to thank all of the generous Outward Bound donors for their support of this amazing organisation! It’s changed my life.

Yours in adventure,