Once you finish high school, things change whether you want them to or not. Getting thrown into the real world comes with a whole new life, some of which you might not expect.
When I look back on high school, the thing I think about most are the friendships. You’ll learn in an instant how much a huge part of your life they were for you.
In the adult world, teeing up with your best mates for a weekend catch up is literally like eight million time harder than choosing a new series on Netflix. One person works weekends, one has a uni assignment due and the other has to fly over from three states away and you have to muster up enough energy to beat your 8.30pm bed time that you have unexpectedly become so fond of.
Friends are such an important part of life–don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Find a way to keep them in your life.
Who actually knew food didn’t cook itself and each human had a seemingly endless paper trail of their identity flying through the mail box every week that you had to attend to?
While the world might seem like an oyster when you’re in high school, it’s metaphorically more like an ocean; it’s full of some really cool shit, but it’s really big and you have to navigate through a whole lot of murky waters and things that might kill you (maybe emotionally more so than literally).
With that said, learn to swim so you don’t drown in it all. Get used to talking to strangers because the world is full of them, pay bills as soon as you can, have a calendar and actually write dates on it. Be organised–your mum can’t save you now!
I was a pro at the PEEL acronym and could critically dissect a book from top to tail and produce solid As on every exam we had. I was great at creating color coded flash cards, memorising dates and algorithms and I used the line ‘Moreover, this is exemplified by the character when…’ about eight million times over the course of Year 12. While this served me well as a student, I was useless as a worker.
The biggest shock for me going from school to my first job was that in high school, it’s all about you–people are literally paid to make sure you do well but in real life, you have to prove your worth to an employer to keep your job. This means that a lot of the time, you don’t get a pat on the back and a gold star stuck on your forehead every time you complete a task, you don’t get days off because you have a headache and you realise real quick that school is nothing like having a job.
Like, seriously–they are big lots of money that you will have to pay back one day. When I asked about HECS debts in high school, my teachers kind of swept it under the rug like it was not really a thing and we’ll worry about it at some other stage of our lives.
I don’t want to deter you from going to university to follow your passions, but don’t go purely for the sake of going because once you have one HECS debt up your sleeve, it’s harder to consider going back to university in the future when you’ve actually found something you are interested in studying. If you’re on the fence about heading to uni, consider taking a working or travelling gap year, not only is it a great way to earn money, gain new skills or see the world, but it can also be a much-needed break from studying before you commit to a following three+ years of uni.
Universities aren’t job making factories. You don’t simply do well in exams, spend a few years at uni binge drinking and studying and then come out at the end in a suit with employers throwing full time 80k a year jobs right next to where you live at you. Research your field of interest while you are in high school, find out what job prospects are like, their average salaries, how saturated the market is of graduates in your field and make an informed decision about weather or not the juice is worth the squeeze.
As a kid, I remember thinking the only question you had to consider you grew up was what you liked doing the most. When you become a job seeker, you realize very quickly that the 9-5, well-paying jobs with benefits and paid leave are becoming far less easy to come by.
For this reason, it is paramount that you consider exactly what type of person you are and what you expect to gain from your career. Some people are extremely career minded and will be happy to follow whichever path their job takes them down, but the reality is for a lot of us, we have a million other things we need time for.
Do you want to get married and if so, can you work and live where your partner lives? How important is money to you? Do you expect to get every weekend off? Do you want to travel extensively? Do you want to be your own boss? How much time do you expect to have for your friends, family or partner? How much and what are you willing to sacrifice is the number one question you need to ask yourself.
Each year after high school seems to pass quicker and quicker and then suddenly, you’ve got your first gray hair or wrinkle under your eye.
This is an incredibly short life we have in the grand scheme of things so make sure that whatever you choose to do with your life, just have fun and be happy at every chance you get.
The road of life so often doesn’t just go the way you expected it to when you were younger; you’ll hit speed bumps and stop signs, you’ll realize you took a wrong turn and have to start again, you’ll lose passengers along the way, you’ll feel like you’re running out of drive or feel like everyone else is speeding past you so don’t forget to just enjoy the journey.
Life isn’t going to be perfect so don’t run yourself into the ground trying to chase its flaws. Remember–the only true measure of success is happiness.
Year 12 Students