School Daze: From Dropout To Bee Man

I am going to tell you a story, and it might be round-about.

Sometimes, or perhaps most of the time, the motivations we pursue in life teach us far more than what we originally anticipated. For example, I never thought that getting a few bee hives of my own would blossom into a job, and then a career. I couldn’t have guessed my hobby would become the kind of passion that would inspire me on a daily basis fuelled by a love of these remarkable animals, their contribution to the world, and the community of environmentally aware and passionate people that surround the practice of beekeeping. What could have been a meagre venture became what I wake up for, what I read about in bed at night, what connects me to other like-minded people, what gives me my purpose.

But I wasn’t always so sure of things. You see, school wasn’t for me. Actually, I liked school, but it didn’t seem to like Ben. Let’s be honest, I wasn’t the best of students; I had a cheekiness (that I still have), a love of fun and action, but not really the concentration that solving algebra equations required. I liked the idea of school– of friends and socialising and getting my hands dirty– and perhaps an alternative schooling may have suited my personality. But at a local high school in country Victoria, the teachers didn’t appreciate my kind of energy in the classroom. And, let’s be honest, it was, at times, over the top! So, after many arguments and detentions, I failed school at the age of fifteen.

Luckily for me, my parents were understanding. You see, they saw a side of me that perhaps my teachers had not been privy to. Despite my bad relationship with highschool, I always knew that working hard FELT GOOD. In fact, it felt way better than being lazy and doing nothing. The only prerequisites was that the work I was doing needed to be fun, interesting and people-oriented. It was also very important that I wasn’t being told what to do by someone I didn’t respect (ahem, in my early adolescence, that was my teachers!).

The whole time I was failing at school, I was spending my nights cooking for my family, obsessed and excited by the concept of making our dinners more delicious, more international, more complicated and sophisticated. With a penchant for European cuisine, with local produce, with detail and timing and rustic arrangements, my mother and father saw that my passions, although unconventional, were real. Sometimes it takes one failure to put you on the right path. Sometimes it takes many. Of course, the story doesn’t end there, but with a little hindsight I can see that being a highschool dropout was, in fact, the start I needed to push me closer and closer toward by career in beekeeping. Failure is not a problem: pick yourself up, learn your lesson and carve out your own purposeful path.

School Daze: From Dropout To Bee Man

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