Matthew Sonnenberg

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BrainBoost our stories

When did you start coming here?
I did English, Socials for grade 10, and then I did full grade 11 here, and now I’m doing grade 12 here. So I did mostly tutoring, and then that kind of transitioned into full time.

What was that transition like?
When I was younger, I had super bad anxiety, so that was the main thing. So I was pretty anxious. But I feel like after the first week of full time, I was pretty anxious, but it was a pretty smooth transition, especially since I’d been doing the tutoring. I didn’t go in cold turkey.

Did you ever try public school?
I was in public school all of elementary, and then grade 8 and 9. High school wasn’t really working for me. I was in the alternate programs for a while, and I thought this really isn’t where I should be, it wasn’t really a place I belong. I ended up here, and it’s been pretty great ever since.

You brought up that you had pretty bad anxiety. How would you describe what anxiety is, or how it affects you?
For all the years I’ve had it, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about explaining it. It’s something that just takes you over, and if it’s bad enough, you can’t control it on the spot. For me, it was always internal. I’m a pretty quiet person, you can’t always read emotions off my face, and it’s like ‘How is he anxious right now?’ I don’t always show a lot of outer stuff when I’m anxious. It strips you of all your confidence, basically. And it puts you in panic fight or flight mode. And all of that time, it meant flight, and not wanting to be in that situation whatsoever.

How do you think we’ve helped you, or supported your anxiety?
I think BB is just a very open place. I see kids come in, especially when it’s the first walk in, and you see their face. Instantly, you can see they’re a bit frightened, and they’re not sure. But you can see the change almost instantly as soon as you start meeting some people. Some of them will start laughing, or they’ll get a little bit of a smile. It’s them meeting people and being reassured it’s a super open and safe space. It’s kind of cool to see.

What advice would you give to someone who’s living with anxiety?
It’s the cliche: it’s going to get better. I guess that no matter how lonely you feel, there’s always people there, there’s always one person that definitely cares. And there’s people willing, even if they don’t know you that well, to be that one person if you need it. The fear will always be there slightly, it’s not something you can ever get rid of, but over time, you slowly learn different techniques, and as you mature and grow as a person, you pass it by a bit, and you grow around it. It’s a bit of a road block, and you learn to grow around it.

Do you feel like you’re more in control of it?
Yes, it’s way more control. There are so many doctors that I would go see, and you don’t always click with everyone. But the guy that I stopped seeing, because I was doing so much better and I didn’t really need to see anybody anymore, he was pretty great. But I think what really came down to it and how I got better, was just maturing. Basically over a summer, that grade 10/11 summer, I almost super-matured, and learned my way around. Breathing really helps too: when I was younger, that would really help me. Deep breathing, and picturing yourself away from the situation.

How would you describe the culture atmosphere at BB?
It’s hard! Sarcastic? I don’t know. Funny and fun on the outside, loving on the inside. That’s a really hard thing to describe. You can’t explain the atmosphere.

How about this – what are the teachers like?
The teachers. Oh, terrible! No, the teachers are pretty great. The teachers are passionate about what they’re doing, and they’re passionate about teaching it to you. There’s a lot of teachers who are a few years older than you, 6, 8 years older than you, and it’s like ‘you’re not allowed to be friends with that person, they’re your teacher.’ People look up to you guys, and ‘this is you in 10 years,’ and people aspire to be that. Teachers are pretty great.

You were in the grad transitions class, which is a program that we’re starting and trying to develop. Do you think it was helpful? What was it like working with Ivey?
Ivey’s great. The best part about grad trans is the five musketeers, I guess six including Ivey. The best days are the ones where we can sit there and just talk for two hours about life after, and this community. It’s a safe space.

What are you doing after BB?
I’m going to Kwantlan next year for Health Science, and then I’m thinking about transferring somewhere else. I was thinking about somewhere like UNBC. I think I do my best work surrounded by the outdoors.

What do you think you’re going to miss most about BB?
The people. You sit there and think about it, and you say ‘I guess I’m leaving.’ I don’t always get all the emotions out, but it’s going to be sad. I think I’m just going to sit out on a bench and pat it, and get up and walk down the stairs, and that’s the ending of the movie. It feels a bit like losing a best friend. But you guys are always here, and we can stop by anytime. It’s part of the journey.

Why do places like BrainBoost exist?
I think every kid should go to a BrainBoost because you’re never alone. There’s some kids that thrive in High school, and there’s a lot of kids that don’t thrive in high school, and there should be places for kids that don’t thrive in high school. They should feel as accepted as the other kids. That’s why there should be more BrainBoosts.

Last question: describe BB in three words.
With love, BrainBoost. 

grad 2016-17

Skills

Posted on

17/08/2016