“Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down”

“The song Chandelier was written for me. I mean, not literally written for me.  But its as if that song looked into my soul. I realized it was time to make changes.”

I met Paige in North Barrie, near the college, on a park bench. She was excited and animated and full of exuberance.  I wasn’t expecting to hear about the song, Chandelier. “I’m out on my own and doing my own thing.  I had fun for awhile and then I stopped.  Well, sorta stopped, but I have goals now”

How can I describe Paige?  She is full of energy, a light, maybe even a beacon.  If you were in a crowd, Paige would stand out to you.  Long Ariana Grande pony tail, perfect eyebrows and a great sense of humour. “I’m so beyond excited to be doing this, talking with you here.  I had a plan of all these things I wanted to tell you, to share but then I narrowed down to one…..or two…(hahaha) Well, I get to talk and you get to listen, so this is MY show!”

It is definitely her show!

“I work so much! Trying to make a living in Barrie, or anywhere actually, is hard right now.  Rents are high, car insurance at my age is ridiculous! Minimum wage doesn’t cut it and there aren’t options.  I work two jobs to try and make it work.  May day job is pretty boring and monotonous, but my night job is a server.  The serving job is the one that makes me my spending money.”

Paige pays all her bills with her wages.  She sometimes works 16-hour days.  She pays rent for a place that she usually only sleeps in.  She lives to work and wants that to change. It’s really her tips that afford her a life outside of work and bills.

“I’m thinking to get maybe a roommate.  Maybe that would help to get rid of the pressure I’m under.  I live for today and deal with tomorrow when I open my eyes.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s not getting the better of me, but I want to get ahead. I’m sort of stuck until I make a change.”

Change has gotta come!

Paige shared some of the changes that she’s trying and one of them was to check out Barrie Housing. Barrie Housing is a non-profit housing provider that has a total of 953 apartments and townhouses located around Barrie. 60% of their rental units are for people who qualify for geared to income subsidy.  Paige is hoping that she’ll be able to maintain her independent lifestyle and qualify for a unit before she seriously considers getting a roommate.

“My life may be stressful, but its drama and problem free.  I don’t go home and fight with a roommate, and if I want to walk around butt naked, I’m gonna walk around butt naked! I surround myself with people who work hard like me.  I just want a chance, you know?  Like an in, or something.  I know that I am good at what I do and somewhere, somehow, someone has to recognize that and give me a push.  Like please, already!”

Somehow, I think Paige is going to do just fine.  After spending time with her, I came to the conclusion that she was the type of person that was going to make her own future, her own destiny. I really feel like maybe the push she needs isn’t going to come from someone else at all but it’s been within herself the whole time.

She just doesn’t know it yet.


 Written by: Sharon Johnston | Images by: Sharon Johnston

Barrie Benches, Coffee and Conversations is a new weekly feature that will highlight Barrie Citizens.  We will share the stories of locals in an effort to make our big community just a little smaller.  If you’d like to share a story of hope and inspiration, email me at [email protected] Perhaps we can sit together on a bench sometime.