‘How I turned my life around’

TURNING AROUND: Motivational speaker Jarryd Smith speaks at George Randell Primary during the ‘My2nd Chance School Tour’ Picture: SUPPLIED

“I looked at the world through the eyes of of fear. I was looking for a purpose, but I was looking for it at the wrong places. I was investing myself into my problems, but not into my purpose.”

Those are the words of Eastern Cape-born, Jarryd Smith, who is the founder of non-profit organisation 2nd Chance.

Smith and his colleagues staged their “My Chance School Tour” talk in East London where they shared their life journey at 13 schools.

Smith moved to Cape Town with his family at the age of eight, where his life took a turn for the worse. which is where his life turned south.

“I struggled with self-esteem and insecurities. I was sexually abused twice, but kept it to myself because children tend to hold on to their secrets. It affected me in the long run.

“We struggle to speak about our problems as people, the voice of silence is called the unspoken, and everything you don’t speak about, speaks to you,” he said.

“It intoxicates your mind and robs you of your purpose and your power. Going through life, I made many impulsive and silly choices, as I wanted to to fit in and be liked.

“I think a lot of the time, we compromise our dreams and goals just to be accepted by society. “These choices I made, were more about trying to escape my reality, but my escape plan placed me in a negative mindset,” Smith said.

Smith said he started drinking at the age of 14 with friends. At 16 he was expelled twice – from two different schools – and was arrested seven times.

“The headmaster said to my father, I was either going to be famous or end up in jail if I don’t turn my life around.

“I stole people’s phones, jewellery, was involved in credit card fraud, sold drugs and was involved in prostitution. I ended up homeless where I slept in the streets on cardboards and crates, injecting drugs into my arms, and almost died.

“At the age of 23, I used to cry every time I took drugs, because I realised I was dying. I caused my mother so much pain, that she wanted to fall asleep and never wake up. My dad said he used to have sleepless nights, thinking about how I was surviving in the streets. He accepted that I was going to die at the time and even had prepared my funeral speech,” Smith said.

But then deep reflection helped Smith change his life around. He said what made him change his lifestyle was when he started to realise there is a purpose to his life to what he’s doing.

“I had this deep desire in my life to make a difference in this world. I wanted to shift people’s hearts and minds and live a life of worth and to leave a legacy behind.”

The challenge he faced during the process of turning over a new leaf was to admit where he went wrong, and to speak out about his pain and trauma.

“I had to let go of the hurt and pain I endured. My life was full of lies.”

Smith has been doing motivational talks at schools for the past seven years.
He said teachers should be more aware of what was happening in pupils’ lives in order to keep them away from turning to a life of crime. prevent youth from getting involved in criminal activities.

“The schools should run more workshops for the teachers and parents, equipping them with the right information and knowledge to be able to identify what’s going on in a child’s life. Schools need to be open to do talks about bullying, goals, and teach self-esteem.”
School who would like to invite 2nd Chance for a talk can e-mail Smith at jarryd@2nd-chance.co.za

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