CHAPTER 4Value your own opinion above all others

Around the time my mum and dad had their seventh child (my sister Cath), they realised they needed to trade in their Kingswood station wagon for something bigger. Dad managed to track down an old plumber's van that was going at a price he could afford. He then installed windows in the back, three rows of bench seats and handcrafted his very own drop-down coffee table. It was fair to say we had a one-of-a-kind family van!

While Dad was rightly proud of his handy work, I was highly self-conscious, wishing we had a ‘normal' car like everyone else. When we drove into the nearby town of Bairnsdale, about half an hour away, I'd duck down out of public view whenever we were in Main Street to avoid being seen by anyone, particularly kids from my school or boys from the local footy club. I used to tell my parents to let me know when it was safe to sit up again. Yet I lost count of the times my dad would tell me that the coast was clear and I'd raise my head in perfect time to see a bunch of kids from my school staring right at me. Dad would chuckle to himself as I dived back for cover admonishing him with, ‘Dad, what will everybody think?!'


Of course, most teenagers are desperate to fit into the pack and avoid anything that makes them look different. But while my self-consciousness may have been normal teenage behaviour, most of us carry our desire for external ...

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