7x21 explores life at 21 with 7 young wāhine and irarere. Here's the wonderful Gala Baumfield !
What’s your favourite thing to drink?
Water. It’s so good.
You identify as she/they. When do you use different pronouns?
I don’t mind she/her or they/them. Most people use she/her. It’s generally other people who don’t know what to refer to me by, so they use they/them. Being in a queer student community some people use they/them because they want to be respectful and it's gender neutral. In Wellington, you never know.
You were a YouTube star as a kid, what was that like?
Around my 9th birthday was when I first uploaded a scooter video. That was my biggest. It really blew up. As a kid, I didn’t understand what 500,000 views were. I knew I had people watching, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I understood what that was. I gained a following and was the only female scooter out and about.
And you gained the highest honours in Kyokushin Karate. Biggest lesson from that?
I struggled academically through high school. By Year 9 I was pushing boundaries as I didn’t have the skills or strategies to know how to make myself perform well because of my ADHD. But karate gave me a really good place to achieve, where I could think I am actually not dumb. It was a place to prove to myself that I was really capable and gave me confidence and self-esteem.
Back then what did you think life would be like at 21?
Growing up in Houghton Bay surrounded by full families and lots of kids and there was me and dad. Mum and dad had separated. I had a sister who was 11 years older than me out there doing big kid stuff like drinking and smoking at the time and I thought I might end up doing that. In Year 9 I wrote a letter to my 18-year-old self. The first line, in all in caps, is ‘Hey yo, I’m 12 you can drink and drive but not at the same time and if you smoke you’re a big poo bum.’
I hope I’m still as weird when I’m older.
When I got to 18 I never wanted to grow out of that stage of youth where you lose your authenticity to this adult professionality. I’m tracking pretty well with that.
And turning 21, are you where you thought you would be?
It feels good. I’m having a great time. I’m grateful for my surroundings. I have really good people in my life who support me and have positive things to say and bring to the world. I think I’m authentic and doing what I love, going out skateboarding. I’m grateful for the chance to explore what I was capable of when I was younger without receiving judgement but rather support. I would do weird science experiences – I went through a phase of making broken arm casts. My dad would go into the hospital and try to get medical supplies. I received no judgement there, so it gave me no reason to judge myself. Even just dressing really tomboyish and both of my parents just saying ‘sweet’
You sound stable, inside your head.
A lot of people deal with intrusive self-doubt thoughts, and obviously, I get nervous, but I don’t have an overwhelming voice in my head. I think removing part of your ego from a lot of situations or outcomes or opinions then that part doesn’t need to be validated and it’s a very different experience. I am present and enjoy my surroundings and I’m super grateful for that. So that’s better than I could have expected for 21.
How do you deal with stressful situations?
When I feel stressed out or in a situation where it feels overwhelming – my mum is unwell and I’ve been doing a lot of caring and hospital visits – I imagine I am my older self giving a hug to my present self, saying it’s actually all good.
Who are your heroes?
I’ve never seen one person and thought this is my idol or strived to be any particular person. My heroes come more from a group or trait aspect. People who are kind - when you’re in a room with someone who is genuinely kind, that brings your energy up. Cool people. The GCs. Good cunts. People who are aware of others and make people happy.
Do you feel like an adult – being 21?
I think I do in my head but also not and I don’t think that I will ever feel fully ‘adult’. What’s surprising about being an adult is seeing the people around you, who, when you used to be a little kid you looked up to. You see them breaking this vision you had of them, like being smashed on the weekend which your kid self would be like what? You realise they are not the truth holders.
What are the most pressing issues facing young women and non-binary folk today?
Young women and non-binary folk are in a system that doesn’t serve them and they don’t get a chance to gain the confidence to navigate the world or access the things they need. When you’re in an environment that doesn’t serve you, it’s so much much easier to get poorer outcomes.
If you could wish for one thing to change right now in Aotearoa what would it be?
I’m going to say mental health. It affects younger people but also wider communities. Everything stems from your mentality and how you feel. You bring it with you everywhere and it creates your reality. If you’re feeling like shit and your brain’s telling you this and you’ve got this going on, then your perspective of how you view the world is going to be very different.
What’s one word or term to sum up how you feel about the future?
Scary is the first thing that comes to mind. I feel like with climate change and personal circumstances it’s going to be scary and hectic, like jumping off the cliff into the unknown the whole time. But one day at a time. But it’s also exciting. I have my whole life. When you are excited I think that everything you do can be exciting.