I met the subjects of this week’s post when I was 19 years old and playing golf at a college for devout Christians in the deep south of America. I am writing about them at 27 years old because it’s been a quiet week and I never really move on.
It is now my fourth week writing about people I hate, and by this point, you have probably questioned whether I am actually the problem. Given the entire premise of what I am doing here, it would be wild if I didn’t anticipate such a response. I know that there will be points at which you are not warming to me at all. That’s fair, and that’s on me.
You might find yourself identifying with one of my blog’s subjects instead - perhaps even one of this week's subjects - Torey or Matt. However, Torey was a gun-toting, Trump supporting, pro-life, n-word using, pick-up truck driving with a confederate flag sticker on her bumper, kinda gal - and she’s not even close to being the worst person in this story. Matt made Torey look like the devout Christian she thought she was. So if you do find yourself warming to either of them, then this one is probably on you.
As a rather devout atheist myself, I’m not entirely certain how I ended up in the deep south of America either, so let’s unpack it together. For 14 years of my life, I played golf competitively - there’s no need to discuss why, we have all done things we regret to impress an older guy. I played golf from ages 7 to 21, and finally at the latter age, the penny finally dropped and I realised what so many had before me - golf is incredibly boring. I was in South Carolina on my golf scholarship when I had this epiphany, and I think it might be the only thought anyone has ever had there.
I thought I knew what my time at college in America would entail, I’d done my research (read: I’d seen ‘The Simpsons’). My ‘research’ was such an abysmal effort it should not be described as such, and I boarded a flight knowing very little about my new home. The full extent of my knowledge could be encompassed in the following 3 facts;
Charleston is a picturesque coastal town
South Carolina is home to Kiawah Island, the golf course where Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship the previous year and I would be practicing there everyday
The lead singer of Matchbox Twenty was from South Carolina. I thought that was cool, I was a fan of their song “Bright Lights”
The second point in my research was the only real motive for my move. I was a young athlete misguidedly and mindlessly chasing some sort of bright light of my own, like a moth to a flame. As is true for most, and thankfully in my case, I was a completely different person at age 19 than I am now. Despite my metamorphosis since, cemented forever in the history books of my high school is the worst yearbook quote of all time, which simply read “I play golf” - this was, devastatingly, at the time, the extent of my entire personality.
The little knowledge I had of my new home, from outside of my so-called research about America’s southern states, was obtained solely from comedy and pop culture. After spending my teen years watching American teen dramas, I packed my bags ready for my quintessential red cup experience, desperate to live out my OC dreams. Before realising that Ryan was only portrayed as the ‘bad boy’ because he was poor and noting that he only ever punched people in situations that were caused entirely by Seth’s privileged and entitled ass, I romanticised the version of American life I had seen on TV.
I didn’t realise at the time, although admittedly, it is fairly common knowledge, America is home to about 50 different Americas, and South Carolina certainly did not offer the America I had envisioned for myself. South Carolina, a proud Republican state, was home to more sexism, racism and homophobia than I had ever witnessed in my life before - this is quite the statement given that I spent the better part of the last decade in Australia.
There were plenty of red flags on my way to not having the red cup experience I was after - these were mainly in the form of confederate flags which could be seen in the window of almost every house on the drive from the airport to my new campus. There were also metaphorical red flags I ignored prior to arrival too - the first of which I saw on the college’s very own website. It described itself as a ‘Christian University’. This concerned me, so I asked my soon-to-be coach, Matt, a man who had been actively recruiting me to join his team, what this might mean for me, an angry little atheist.
I foolishly took his answer as gospel, although this was a bit like asking a writer for a review for their own blog - for the record, “voice of a generation, 5 stars”. The coach was an Australian man, and he used our shared knowledge of my least favourite island as a yardstick - I had attended a ‘religious’ high school in Australia, as had he. He said my new university would be exactly the same - chapel once a month but religion wasn’t a big part of anyone’s lives. He said it would be exactly the same as I was used to. I wouldn’t even notice it.
When he sat me down in the university cafeteria on my very first day of college, over a glass of southern sweet tea, and brought up the topic of ‘sex before marriage’, I questioned whether he had, perhaps, lied to me. It was disgusting - southern tea is tea that is neither hot enough to be considered tea nor cold enough to be considered ice tea and one glass of the stuff contains an amount of sugar that would give an entire village type II diabetes. I also thought it was quite gross that a middle aged man was talking to me about my sex life. Bizarre too - he had recruited me for the golf team after all, didn’t he realise I wasn’t having sex?
He carried on to explain to me that campus rules dictated that I was not to have sex or I would risk losing my scholarship. I was told that my new home had separate boys and girls’ dorms and students were forbidden to visit the opposite one except during visiting hours at the weekend. In the prison that was my new university, these weren’t exactly conjugal visits either, because you had to keep the door wide open because god forbid anyone have premarital sex. Literally - god was the one forbidding it.
I thought it was inappropriate for God or any institution to dictate what anyone can choose to do with their own body and I thought it was absurd that even having male friends was discouraged with such an antiquated approach. Also, I found it interesting that boys could only visit at specific and supervised hours during the week, yet girls were free to come and go, as and when - an intentional pun and a lovely little oversight from the homophobes in charge.
As a result of my views on the campus rules, and for having been caught with my gay male friend in my room outside of these hours, I was suddenly seen as someone who went against the grain, which was quite a feat for me. I may have been the first rebel to have packed coasters in their suitcase. I was still, for all intents and purposes, essentially ‘good’, but in America, I was suddenly seen as ‘bad’. Holy shit, I was Ryan and I was living my OC dreams.
Living in Charleston was the first time in my life that everything about me - my morals, my values and my strong aversion to cowboy hats - was drastically different from everyone around me. I was in the minority for being a pro-choice atheist who didn’t own a gun or drive a pick-up truck. In South Carolina, there was a study done on which groups of people were least trustworthy, and atheists ranked one below rapists and murderers. This sadly gives a very accurate representation of the attitudes towards me from my peers who quickly realised I didn’t share their views. People thought I was awful and often told me so; one girl kept telling me she was praying for me. I told her she should pray for herself, and watch out.
For the very first time in my life, I was delighted to have street cred, which was absurd, because those who say “street cred” should never be allowed to have it. Especially if they say “delighted” in the same sentence. I have always been a rule follower by nature - and at this point in my life, I had barely even touched alcohol. I am in no way proud to admit this, but I was a little dweeb and had my first (legal) drink on my 18th birthday in Australia. I then had my first illegal one at 19 alone in my dorm room in America. My drink of choice, after being subjected to countless discussion about sex before marriage, was a deliberate ‘sex on the beach’.
Because it was visiting hours, my door was open, and a girl with a clipboard suddenly appeared in my doorway. I assumed she was a fellow student because she looked about my age and she was wearing a hoodie I liked a lot. The main university in Charleston was called South Carolina University and was home to one of the state's most popular sports teams who were formally known as the ‘South Carolina Gamecocks’. Much to my glee, they were only ever referred to as the colloquial ‘COCKS’, and this was printed in big letters across all of their merch. Americans didn’t use this word in the way I was used to using it and hearing it, and none of them found it quite as funny as I did. I became a massive fan and proud owner of a great deal of merchandise. I would wear it with pride and go to every game with a homemade sign that said “Go hard or go home”. I’d yell “COME ON”, “KEEP IT UP”, “FINISH STRONG”.
I told the girl standing in my doorway that I liked her hoodie. I introduced myself and welcomed her in, joking that I had an open door policy. The red clipboard she held should have been yet another red flag of what was to come, but I’d seen the American teen movies and decided I was up for having a quirky friend with an eccentric personality.
My new friend looked down at her red clipboard. My new friend then looked up at me and asked if I was drinking alcohol. I proudly held up my red cup and nodded. I offered my new friend some. It turned out she wasn’t my new friend. She was my hall monitor and she gave me a bible study class as my punishment for having alcohol on campus. This was how I found out my new home was a dry campus - in every sense of the word. In one of the more tragic scenes of my life, I was assigned to a bible study group for my first underage drink and only illegal act of my entire life.
I later found out that one of my roommates had a gun in her top drawer, but I was the only one who ever had anything confiscated. I now had a slip of paper informing me of where and when I was to be at my first bible study class and I had to look forward to learning about why the man who turned water into wine thought that my bottle of vodka was bad.
It became my first of a great number of bible study classes, and by the end of my time in America, I was very familiar with the bible. I didn’t even need to become a rebel without a cause stacking up detention-like bible study classes for my deviant ways, because at my university - where religion was "unnoticeable" - I was required to take a compulsory Religious Studies class each semester. During my year in America, I read the bible back to front, and this is something I am glad I did, because, as you have probably gathered by now, I like my hate to be of the informed genre.
Alas, despite my extensive knowledge of Jesus and all his pals, I struggled to maintain a C grade in Religious Education, which was not ideal because I soon found out that doing so was another requirement to keep my scholarship. I wasn’t struggling because the exams were in any way challenging, but because I was simply too stubborn to be indoctrinated.
The loosely described ‘exams’ for this class were the easiest exams you could imagine, and always involved a heavily weighted question at the end of each exam which was “do you believe in God?”. I always ticked the multiple choice answer “no” and failed each and every time as a result. My professor told me I could work for extra credit to get my grades back up, but he noted that he wasn’t so sure I would be able to recover my grades enough given my devastatingly low starting point. I thought he ought to have more faith, especially given that his homeboy literally came back from the dead.
My stubbornness eventually landed me in my coach’s office because my Religious Studies grades fell far enough that my scholarship was jeopardised. Eventually I was forced to do an extra credit homework assignment - this was an essay that posed the question “What steps are you taking in your life to avoid premarital sex?”. I answered with one sentence; “I won’t get married”. My professor didn’t think this was quite as clever the loophole as I did, but I somehow managed to finish both semesters with exactly the C grade required.
I got in trouble a lot for premarital sex that year, and too much I would argue, for someone who wasn’t managing to have any. I also ended up in my coach’s office more times than I would have liked for various other reasons, none of which I take any personal responsibility for. The next time I was in my coach’s office, I was being disciplined because of my favourite t-shirt and my song choices en route to tournaments.This probably doesn’t make a lot of sense so please, dear reader, allow me to explain.
It all began when I declined a date with someone on the football team named Brad. I discovered that what I had seen on TV was true when it came to football teams - there is a lot of fanfare around collegiate sports in America, and the players were treated like celebrities. When I was asked out by Brad I did something unheard of by turning him down.
Not only was saying no to the quarterback unheard of, but so too, was saying no to anyone - I discovered another thing I was in the minority for, in the deep south of America, was my attitude to dating at the time. I only went on one date during my time there and it was over before it started - the guy found out I didn’t share his belief in God, and said he couldn’t date someone who was going to hell - I agreed, long distance never works.
After this I decided I didn’t want to date while I was in America for a couple of reasons - firstly, I didn’t like dating people who sincerely believed that the earth is 2013 years old, but secondly, and most significantly, I just didn’t want a boyfriend. The idea of a young straight woman not wanting a boyfriend was unbelievable in South Carolina, as this state is not only located in the South but also in 1950. I was very different from my peers in this regard because many at my university attended with the singular goal of finding a husband. Freshmen were getting engaged all around me and relationships moved so fast in that marriage proposals were pick up lines.
However, it was just as well I said no to Brad, because the next week, I discovered I was gay. Let me rephrase - I was kindly informed I was gay by Torey, but it was news to me. Word got around quickly that the new girl had declined someone on the football team, and my peers on the golf team used their impressive analytical skills to collectively draw the only sensible conclusion they could; I was obviously a lesbian.
Sexuality is obviously not a choice - except in my case because it was entirely Torey’s decision. She decided I was gay and told everyone. My golf team was, as you can imagine, full of the worst type of people, and their homophobic behaviour towards me was appalling. Golf is an incredibly bigoted institution even to this day, so it’s unsurprising that it attracted the cream of South Carolina’s crop. Most of my small minded teammates were from South Carolina and had never been anywhere else. One teammate was from Georgia, the state and not the country - despite the fact she had a flag of the country sewn onto her golf bag.
Saying that I experienced homophobia when I am straight feels wrong, but my actual sexuality was irrelevant. Torey and the rest of my teammates bullied me relentlessly for who they thought I was. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t actually gay - everyone around me had decided that I was. However, I would like to acknowledge that I was able to remove myself from South Carolina, I was able to pack my bags and return home and no one has been homophobic towards me here. Someone who is gay doesn’t have the luxury of switching it off like I was able to. I can’t even begin to imagine what it feels like to not have the plane ticket away from it that I did.
I told Torey on multiple occasions that she had it wrong, that I wasn’t gay, that it was a misunderstanding. But this was ridiculous - I shouldn’t have had to do or not do anything to prove that I was who I said I was. No one owes an explanation or justification of their sexuality to anyone, especially not to a girl who has diamonties on her cowboy boots.
I was angrier than I had ever been before in my life but I wasn’t angry because I was called gay, but because I had my voice taken away from me - I felt powerless knowing that people could define me however they pleased, however inaccurately. It wasn’t the label I hated, it was the act of someone else choosing to label me.
Despite all this, 19 year old me who believed herself to be as liberal as they come, had the thought “I’m not gay, this is not something I deserve” and I hated having that thought the moment I had it. It’s wrong to think that because I wasn’t gay the homophobia should stop. This would imply such behaviour might have been fine if I was actually gay, and that is definitely not the take I wanted to have either then or now.
The behaviour was wrong no matter who I was or who I wanted to be sleeping with. It was always the bullying that was wrong, not the inaccuracies in her motive for the bullying. Realising this was what made me double down with my response to Torey. This is why I ended up deciding that I wasn’t going to commence some sort of campaign to prove my straightness, and instead I retaliated in the only way I knew how.
This brings me to how I ended up in my coaches office being disciplined for my excellent fashion sense and taste in music. You see, Torey had a lot of hate to give, and while this was mainly to marginalised groups of people, she also saved a great deal for her cousin. She had frequently lamented about how her cousin became really famous and didn’t want to spend time with her anymore - and she was rather bitter about the whole thing. When she moaned about this on one road trip to a tournament, I suddenly realised I had heard of her very famous cousin - he just so happened to be the lead singer of a band who I knew about from my extensive South Carolina research.
I have never really known how to stand up to bullies like Torey but I did know how to look up a band’s website, buy their merch, and wear it every single day. On the way to tournaments, we had a team rule dictating that everyone got a turn with the aux cord and no one could complain about anyone else’s choices. I sat patiently and listened to my teammates play songs like “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” (completely un-ironically, I might add), and played Torey’s cousins greatest hits whenever was my turn. This made Torey angry, she told me I was “insane” and that my sense of humour was “sick”. I, of course, told her that I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell.
After one tournament, Torey and I ended up in the coach’s office, because Torey shouted at me on a putting green. Torey shouted at me because she believed I was the reason we lost the tournament. I shot a lower score than Torey so one might sensibly argue that she was more responsible for the loss than I. However, Torey decided that we lost because I didn’t pray before we teed off. I couldn’t understand why she thought God would give a shit about women’s golf. No one gives a shit about women’s golf. I spent 14 years playing golf and I don’t give a shit about women’s golf.
My coach organised a meeting to discuss our ‘shared responsibility’ for her outburst. He said that a big part of her outburst was because I had been winding her up with an album with zero skips. My coach said my behaviour was ‘petty’. I told him that I was only responding to Tory in this ‘petty’ and hilarious way because she was treating me in a far worse, homophobic, way. I know this might sound like “she started it”, but actually I wholeheartedly believe “she started it” a fair and mature argument - it’s called “self defence” in a court of law.
What we had here was a simple cause and effect situation. My coach could call me stubborn and insist I needed to change my response all he wanted, but it doesn’t change that if you remove the initial offence, my response to it could not be criticised because it simply wouldn’t have existed. I suggested he focused on her behaviour and not my response to her behaviour. After all, and as he had told me countless times, “the best offence is a good defence” and as I had told him countless times “we play golf, that makes no sense”.
Instead of focusing on the fact that Torey’s homophobia was never acceptable whether her assumption of my sexuality was correct or not, my coach instead asked me what I had done to make Torey think that I was gay, and if I had tried doing anything to prove her wrong.
He said he could understand why other people thought I was gay. “Have you thought about the way you dress?”, he asked me. I told him that he was the one that chose the uniform. “How many boyfriends have you had?”, he asked next. When I told him, at 19 years old, that the answer was none, he told me that perhaps it wasn’t bullying, but it was a “shared perception” held by those around me. He said “he could see it”.
He brought up that he had asked me about sex before marriage, and used what I had shared with him in an incredibly uncomfortable and inappropriate setting - information that, at the time, I was a virgin - against me. He told me that no one had done anything wrong by discussing my private business. The words “shared perception” still send a shiver down my spine, and knowing that a middle aged man (or anyone at all) thought they had any place in speculating about my sexuality disgusted me.
The moment he said “shared perception” to me was the moment I decided to stop playing golf. I didn’t actually pull the plug for 2 more years, but this was the moment something inside me switched. It wasn’t a direct result of these words but these words were the straw that broke an already battered and bruised camel's back. The camel's back ended up in this state because of one word he used months earlier - a few months after I moved to South Carolina - when my grandmother died.
Just after the worst phone call of my life, I was expected to play a qualifier for an upcoming tournament. I shot 90, which is not a good score for a collegiate golfer and definitely not one that would qualify me for any tournament, but I didn’t care. Golf was the last thing anyone should have given a shit about at that moment. All I could think was that someone I loved dearly had died, and this was when my coach called me a “quitter”.
Since I was 7 years old, I had heard the word “quitter” more times than I could count, but it had never affected me in the way that it did when he said it. Since I was 7 years old, my entire life was planned out. At the first sign of talent it was decided by everyone around me that I was going to be a professional golfer. I never felt I was ever extended any opportunity to reconsider this, and I didn’t even realise I had the option of reconsidering it.
I remember having the first thoughts of wanting to stop playing golf at 14 years old, but by that point I had already spent 7 years, half of my life, doing it for no real reward, so I kept going because I didn’t want it to be all for nothing. It became quite the vicious cycle. Even if you don’t love something, if you do it everyday for over a decade, you get quite good at it. It can become hard to tell if you like the sport, or if you like being good at something. The further I went down the rabbit hole, the more time I committed to the sport, the more I had sacrificed and the better I got at it, and the more I thought I couldn’t change the path I was on.
I never explored anything else that I was good at, not other aspects of my life or personality. Along with everyone else in my life, I had tunnel vision, and when I got the call offering me a full ride to an American university I took it without so much as a second thought, believing that an opportunity to further my dreams was enough reason to uproot my entire life. Unfortunately, like every sensitive jock in any 2000s rom com, you can bet on it, they were never my dreams.
I didn’t have ‘tiger parents’, but a 7 year old doesn’t acquire golf clubs and drive themselves to a golf course on their own. My parents love golf and wanted me to love golf too. I was too young and dumb to even comprehend that I didn’t. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t love it. I did grow to hate it (and I believe this is the most special kind of hate) but at the time it was just what I did, and it was all I knew.
Like the majority of young athletes, I was raised in a bubble of sport and it was hard to imagine or even comprehend that there was a world outside it. Since the age of 7, when I was lifted up onto the conveyor belt that would take me to ‘golf stardom’ (two words that absolutely do not belong together), I was surrounded by people who told me that hopping off that conveyor belt would make me a failure and a “quitter”.
Everything within this world raised me to hold a mentality that even considering an alternative would make me a failure. You are constantly told that if you decide to stop doing an activity you started as a child - if you experience any sort of growth or change as a person and realise you don’t want to do this anymore for any valid reason - you’re a quitter. Only quitters have back up plans, I was repeatedly told by coaches and peers and teammates and campaigns from sporting brands. I was expected to put golf first, and golf above all else, and I did.
This mentality stunts people’s development, which is exactly what happened to me. Being raised in such a competitive environment, and seeing anyone who chooses to leave criticised for changing and growing as a person, is not healthy. I think this is why most athletes remain petulant children even into their adult lives, because their environment doesn’t encourage or reward growth or change.
When my grandmother died, I realised that this mentality was deeply flawed. Instantly it was abhorrent to me to be valued as an athlete and not a person, and to be considered a quitter for prioritising the death of a loved one, over the most monumentally boring activity there ever was.
I told my coach I didn’t appreciate being called a quitter especially when I was grieving and he told me that I should channel my pain into playing better golf. “Try and win the tournament for her”, he said. “Do what your grandma would’ve wanted” he said. It was sickening. He didn’t know my grandma, so how the hell did he know what she wanted. This made my blood boil and I think if I had done what 'my granny would’ve wanted' - I would’ve had to punch him in the face.
His disregard for my pain was a perfect example of the all too common disregard for an athlete’s basic humanity in the world of competitive sport. He was willing to bleed me dry if it got him the results he wanted. I was a not so well oiled machine who was expected to put golf above all else and produce results at any cost, and I realised I didn’t want to live my life like that.
This obviously wasn’t the first time he massively overstepped the line given the very first conversations I had with him in the university cafeteria before the semester started. It was intrusive and gross that he had ever talked to me in this manner - but it wasn’t and isn’t unusual for people who grow up playing sport competitively to be subjected to questionable lines being crossed, and because of this upbringing I didn’t question it. I had been weighed in my underwear, I had my body fat squeezed with callipers and measured in front of the nutritionist and physio and other players. I had been asked deeply personal questions all in the name of high performance; even before I moved to South Carolina, I knew athletes who would discuss when they were planning any and all types of physical activity, sex included, with their coaches. It didn’t seem as shockingly inappropriate as it should’ve done to have my sex life brought up by my coach.
Sport is a dehumanising world to grow up in. It attracts a certain type of person, and most successful people are not people I would ever want as pals. I think it is near impossible to have the characteristics I value in people and be a successful athlete. I think you have to be inherently selfish, and I think being a part of a world that treats you like a deity if you’re exceptionally good at it, pushes you even further towards narcissism.
When Tiger Woods was caught out for his many indiscretions, it was clear that he thought he was above the rules of ‘normal people’. His entitlement was gross and blatantly clear; he thought he had worked hard enough that he deserved to ‘break some rules’, and he was happy to do so at the expense of others.
Don’t get me wrong; I think he’s a prick, but I also understand where his entitlement stemmed from. I dedicated my entire childhood to a sport, I had essentially worked a full time job for 14 years by the time I was 21, I was burnt out and I was angry that I had given so much to something and I felt like the world owed me something in return. It was a tough pill to swallow when I realised no one owed me anything. I didn’t go to parties as a teenager, I went to bed early, I got up early; I didn’t have a normal social life, and I expected to be rewarded for the sacrifices I had made. It made me really angry when I wasn’t. When I stopped playing golf and I started a full time job, I genuinely felt like I was taking a load off my shoulders, and could finally relax. I felt immense relief with all the weight gone from my shoulders, but I left the chips there in case I needed them later to talk about, in a blog or something.
Maybe my old coach will think it is unfair that I have written about him publicly, maybe he’ll dislike that I am calling him incompetent and under qualified - but I think he should try to remember - no one has done anything wrong by discussing anything about him, it’s just a shared opinion.
My year in South Carolina taught me one of the most valuable lessons I think I have ever learnt; tolerance is so important, but equally it is important to not tolerate intolerance. What I mean here is, before I lived there, I kept my opinions about things like religion mostly to myself. I was raised to believe it was never ok to criticise anyone’s religious beliefs and I disagree with that line of thought entirely now. I think that some aspects of some religions need to be called out and you don’t need to be tolerant of an institution that allows and encourages homophobia, sexism, racism and abuse from sexually frustrated dickheads who need to take their anger out on others.
My year in South Carolina also taught me that sport is stupid and that people that like it are dumb. The odds of making it in competitive sport are exceptionally low as it is, so if you’re going to do it, you better be fine with dedicating your time to something that might never come to fruition. You should be one of those people who can genuinely say “I enjoyed the journey, it was worth it for the friends I met along the way”. I’m not one of those people; I didn’t and it wasn’t.
Golf is an individual and extremely competitive sport - that’s a near impossible environment to foster genuine friendships in. Golf had become such an ingrained part of my existence that I didn’t realise that I hate everything about the sport with every fibre of my being until it took me to a place I didn’t want to be.
I now think that sometimes the best thing you can be is a quitter. The bravest thing you can do is admit that what you once wanted is not something you want anymore. I ended up in South Carolina like a moth drawn to a flame and I decided to never be a moth again - because the thing about moths is they will take to any bright light.
Moths are supposed to follow the light of the moon and stars to get them where they need to go. However, sometimes moths can’t tell the difference between the natural light they need and artificial lights that will harm them. At worst, a moth heading towards the wrong kind of light will be fatal, but at best, it will simply hang around a light source that it can get nothing from, for way longer than it should, wasting it's life and stopping itself from going where it was truly meant to go.
South Carolina broke me to a point that I now empathise with moths, but I learned a valuable lesson. I realised it was time to stop aimlessly chasing a light and a life that I didn’t want. I will be the first to admit that I commenced 2013 as quite a dumb and petty kid, quoting lines from songs just to annoy Torey. I definitely had some maturing to do on my way to realising that if the bright lights don’t receive you, then you should turn yourself around and come on home.