From Soldier to Song

GOLD Coast local Ben Tenison has gone from soldier to singer, finding a passion for promoting mental health along the way.

GOLD Coast local Ben Tenison has gone from soldier to singer, finding a passion for promoting mental health along the way. The former Australian Army officer is now an artist and music producer who this year successfully launched a debut song, Be Your Own King, and a growing business, Roxley Music.

His song highlights ending the self-hate cycle and championing yourself, something he has lived and looks to encourage in others.

Ben joined the army in 2014 and, despite realising the military wasn’t his calling, saw out his minimum service period.

“(It was) probably one of the most challenging things that I've had to do, to stick it out and to continue to show up every day even though I knew my heart wasn't in it,” he said.

“But I'm really glad that I did because I learnt a lot about commitment and sacrifice.”

Ben said that in those years, he worked out his true passion and decided to establish himself as a music producer.

The 30-year-old hung up his uniform at the start of this year and jumped straight into being a small business owner.  

“I was terrified,” he said.

“I thought it was going to be rocky and … I was going to stuff everything up, but it's been really smooth actually.”

Ben credits Prince’s Trust Australia’s Enterprise Online programme with helping him find his business feet.

The programme supports serving and ex-serving ADF members and their spouses in becoming entrepreneurs and business owners.  

“I saw they were doing some more business orientated courses and I was really interested because I was very clear after being in the army for so long that I wanted to run my own business,” he said.

“I had no experience in setting up a business or running a business, but I had a lot of ideas about what I would like to do.”

Ben said the Enterprise Online workshops boosted his confidence in his ideas and gave him business skills and knowledge.

“It's quite easy to feel a bit alone and isolated in this thing that you're starting,” he said.

“It was really good to share my ideas with people and have people be like, ‘yeah that's a great idea, that sounds viable’.

“And ‘let's work out how to do that and have a bit of an action plan for it as well rather than just a great idea’.”

And while growing professionally Ben was also working on his mental health through men’s retreats and focusing on his own needs.

“I really dealt with not being able to love myself and not being able to take care of myself,” he said.

“I had this kind of nice guy mentality where I wanted everyone else to feel good and feel safe and feel connected and supported.

“I'd put my own needs, my own requirements…at the bottom of the pile.

“I feel like I've found this real happy medium now, where I get to support other people's hopes and dreams but still take care of myself.”

Ben’s mental health journey inspired Be Your Own King.

“I wanted to let people know it's okay to (put yourself first), because in my mind it was kind of not okay. I felt like it was a selfish thing,” he said.

“But by looking after yourself, you're actually creating the capacity…to fill your own cup so that you can support and fill up other people's cups as well.”

Ben said he would continue to focus on promoting mental health awareness, especially for men.

“I don't think there's a lot of jumping off points for men to get into this sort of space,” he said.

“I never really knew about men's work or being a part of a men's circle before. That men-supporting-men kind of kind of thing.

“If I can be someone's exposure to that, then I think that would be awesome.”

Article is written for The Trust by an Australian Defence Force spouse, freelance copywriter, and Enterprise program alumna Courtney Snowden.

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