I witnessed my sister heading off to her Year 12 Formal the other day and I felt so incredibly proud. The beginning of the end to a long thirteen years of schooling and turning the page to a new chapter post-HSC exams. I came home from work the night of Aimee's last exam and she was glowing. The freedom she had only been looking forward to was now a reality. I hugged her, welcoming her to this new and exciting journey. I explained to her that while she may feel like a huge burden had been lifted off her shoulders, it is not all cruisy from here. Life throws lots of curveballs and you need to be prepared to face them head on, instead of let them overpower you.
Later that night, I laid in bed thinking how that was me two years ago and how much has changed in that short period of time. I reminisced about the challenges that I faced as I completed my exams and my personal experiences of that taste of 'freedom' that followed. I quickly wrote down a few things that I wish I had known when I waved school goodbye, with the intention of sharing these pieces of advice with my sister.
1. Be open minded. You'll meet new people with different values and morals to you. Don't let that dishearten you, but rather listen to their perspectives, explore new avenues and deepen your own understanding. Don't be stubborn and close-minded. Always be willing to learn and grow. Knowledge is power. Stand up for what you believe in, but don't shut down others for their beliefs.
2. Embrace challenges. Acknowledge that things won't be easy, but when difficulties arise, take those moments to pause and evaluate the situation from multiple directions. Sometimes we limit ourselves to the things we want to see and are oblivious to the things we should or need to be focusing on. Your attitude and perspective changes everything, so adjust them accordingly.
3. Find your passion and run with that. Do something that you love, but also try new things - you may love something that you don't even know yet! The first step is finding something that you love, but the most important thing is believing in that. Never be scared to step outside your comfort zone. Often, you will find that you will make new experiences, meet new people and have the opportunity to reveal your hidden talents when you take a risk and try something different.
4. Make time for your friends. It is different after school, because you have to put time and effort into maintaining your friendships. You grow up with these people and you learn from each other. These relationships are important and you will find that once you go your separate ways, it is much more difficult to hold on to those special bonds you have created. All relationships work better when equal amounts of effort is put in by everyone involved.
5. Remember that you are Loved. You will quickly realise that this world is messed up. There are so many things going on, not only on a global scale, but even within our local surroundings. It is okay to feel overwhelmed by all of these things, but also remember to have faith that there is something much bigger and greater than all of these materialistic and temporary things. In a world full of chaos, let this reminder bring you peace.
Growing up is an exciting, but scary and fun, yet challenging experience. I have realised in the last two years, that I have already grown and matured so much. But more importantly, I have realised that this growing and maturing never stops.
Keep smiling. x