School daze will fade as life gets ex­cit­ing

Sunday Territorian - - OPINION -

THIS week a fresh class of Ter­ri­tory teens has been let loose into the world af­ter re­ceiv­ing their Year 12 re­sults.

For many, the com­ing days will be an odd mix of cel­e­brat­ing free­dom and mourn­ing the end of an era.

There’s no need for nos­tal­gia, I’ll let you in on a se­cret: school is not the best years of your life. NOWis the best time of your life.

That pe­riod be­tween school and what­ever is next.

It’s a small win­dow of care­free joy be­fore real re­spon­si­bil­ity and the pres­sure of life lived in­de­pen­dently sets in.

Spend­ing the sum­mer with your mates be­fore you all set off on dif­fer­ent paths, pon­der­ing what each of you will make of your­selves — make sure you ap­pre­ci­ate it.

You will, of course, face that ques­tion most-hated by re­cent grad­u­ates: ‘‘What are you go­ing to do with your life?’’ This is of­ten posed by well- mean­ing aunts and friends of your par­ents who have no idea the angst that it cre­ates.

If I am asked that ques­tion now, 18 years post- high school grad­u­a­tion, I still don’t know the an­swer. At 17 my only aim was to turn 18, and since then I’ve bounced around di­rec­tion­less like a bro­ken com­pass, but it’s been a great ad­ven­ture.

Of my school mates, very few are do­ing what they wrote in their school year­book un­der that pre­pos­ter­ous sec­tion ‘‘ where will you be in 10 years’ time’’.

This is not a sign of lost dreams or lack of suc­cess. Just as you aren’t who you were at the end of pri­mary school, in a few years’ time you won’t be the per­son you are now. Your plans change.

I’m not go­ing to lie; the whole new world you are about to face will shock you.

Decisions will no longer be made for you, life doesn’t come with ready- made friends and en­e­mies — you will have to take time to fig­ure peo­ple out, and au­thor­i­ta­tive fig­ures won’t al­ways cod­dle you with feel-good, PC com­ments which are de­signed to boost your ego.

On the up­side, those rigid timeta­bles are a thing of the past and mun­dane en­forced sub­jects like maths ( who needs that?) will no longer rule your life.

And best of all, once you step out­side that gate, ev­ery­one is on an even play­ing field. I went to a school where the pop­u­lar kids weren’t smart and the smart kids weren’t pop­u­lar.

For the lat­ter, this changes dra­mat­i­cally once the fi­nal school bell has rung. Sud­denly that strange so­cial struc­ture of school — where unique­ness isn’t cel­e­brated, it gets beat up— dis­ap­pears.

You’re free to be the per­son you al­ways have been, not the boxed-in ver­sion of you in­vented by some­one else way back in Year 7. LTHOUGH you’ve learned a lot over the past 12 years of school­ing, there is still so much you don’t know.

When I fin­ished school I knew lit­tle about drink­ing sen­si­bly or cook­ing a bal­anced meal. And I was ter­ri­fied of mak­ing poor decisions or not be­ing good enough in the ‘real world’.

So I’ve com­piled a few points I would say to my 17- year- old self, step­ping

Atimidly into a world un­known, in hopes that it might help our newly grad­u­ated Ter­ri­to­ri­ans en­ter­ing into the next phase of life.

For­get the pop­u­lar kids — the pim­ple-free girls with the nice hair and up- to- date wardrobes. These peo­ple all peaked in high school. You’ll be ex­plor­ing Africa while those girls get knocked up. You’ll have vis­ited 15 coun­tries by the time they’re on to their se­cond mar­riage.

The guys you wished would no­tice you will soon have beer bel­lies and bad tat­toos. And when you ac­tu­ally do, years down the track, have a con­ver­sa­tion with them or be­friend them on Face­book, you re­alise they are dumb ar­ses and you’ve to­tally dodged a bul­let there.

Stop feel­ing guilty about the stu­dents you failed to stick up for — the over­weight, shy ones with red hair and acne who copped it ev­ery day. They will go on to be the UN sec­re­tary gen­eral, or some­thing sim­i­lar. These peo­ple of­ten thrive out­side the school en­vi­ron­ment. You will be happy to hear of their suc­cess.

You might not get the marks you needed, but you will still get where you want to go in a round­about way. Of course, when you get there, you may re­alise that it’s not where you want to be at all. But that’s OK, you will work it out.

Don’t feel ner­vous about uni— it will be the best thing that ever hap­pened to you. Sure there’s a bit of hard work in­volved, but in­be­tween that you will be liv­ing with a bunch of mates, go­ing to see bands and go­ing out danc­ing till 5am. Far su­pe­rior to school.

Don’t worry for your friends who stuffed up their fi­nal year, the ones you know are ca­pa­ble of more. You are right, they are ca­pa­ble of more and they will achieve it — even if they have to work at Mac­cas for a few years be­fore they fig­ure it out.

Ap­pre­ci­ate your part-time job at Wendys. Lit­tle do you know, this is one of the best jobs you will ever have: 15 hours a week and free ice cream. If only you weren’t more am­bi­tious.

In bad news, pim­ples don’t cease post-teen and get­ting into night­clubs isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Ter­ri­tory grad­u­ates, you should be proud of what you’ve achieved in com­plet­ing your sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. It is no easy feat.

You might be ec­static school days are be­hind you, but al­ways be grate­ful for them too. Had you been born in an­other coun­try, or in­deed just a few hun­dred kilo­me­tres in any di­rec­tion from Darwin, your life might look very dif­fer­ent right now.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Class of 2013.

Fol­lowmeon Twit­ter @KylieMStev­en­son

In good news for Ter­ri­tory high school grad­u­ates, you’re about to have the time of your life. In bad news, the pim­ples don’t stop

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