I don’t think it’s uncommon to look back and wonder what it would be like to redo high school as this current self. I’d likely be more insightful, more compassionate to those around me, and take a greater interest in what I was learning or just completely d*ck around because I knew that the marks received on the HSC don’t really mean much in the real world.
All they really are is a quick ticket into uni, which is fine! But I wish I didn’t think it was an all or nothing type of deal. I spent six months studying film and television, dropped out, spent the next six months working in a children’s play centre, saving zero dollars, then I studied Arts in College for another year before transferring into university. And in those two years, I met some of the most wonderful people, had great conversations and hit a few milestones, smoke A LOT of weed, stopped smoking weed, and slowly progressed into the person I am today; although that person still grows.
Regardless, here are a number of things I wish I knew when I was in high school.
1. The friendships I had were circumstantial
The people I was friends with was out of convenience.
That’s not to say I don’t keep in touch with any of them and some I still care for dearly but realistically we were lumped together in the same school, the same year, the same classes. The outcome being a group of eleven girls who although so different did get on quite well. But as any group of high school girls go, there was drama, rumour, gossip — admittedly, I was at times the source of that. But what I never realised was some of these people weren’t my people, they were just people who were there and went but some also stayed and we stayed together for something stronger than convenience.
2. Some people will never develop
I want everyone to reach their full potential because I believe these people are so much more capable of complacency. This is especially true for my friends.
Whether that be working a job you’re not passionate about, studying something because there’s money in it or having the same mentality you did when you were seventeen, even seven years later — it breaks my heart to see or hear that some people are stuck, even if they don’t know it.
3. Teachers are people
Yes, it sounds so obvious but it never really clicked to me at the time that teachers are people. They go home, they go to their lives outside of work, they may struggle with their families, illness, financial hardships — all the fun things life has to throw your way.
But they still care, well most of them. Some people go into the teaching industry because they want young people to learn about the world and themselves. Educators are so fucking fantastic because they care, as lame as it sounds. These people take shit from teenagers (one of the most complex types of human), work long hours, then go home, mark papers and give feedback all so you can be better.
4. Your peers also struggle
I hate to admit it but it’s true, I was a bully.
And I look back in disappointment at my past self because I wasn’t insightful or compassionate enough to understand that my peers are people. Yes, another simple concept and maybe it was just me but maybe it wasn’t.
Realising that my school mates may have had to go home to cope with mental health issues, financial struggles or dysfunctional families. You never know what someone else is going through, whether they be a ‘nerd’, a ‘sporty’, or whatever stereotypical category we lump those around us into.
5. Knowing a little about a lot goes a long way
It easy to say half the things we learn in high school will never apply to our day to day lives and while that may be the case, I feel that having a fundamental understanding of certain things; math, English techniques or history of our country — it all comes together in one way or another.
While you don’t need to develop certain skills past a point, it still helps to know because you may want to expand on certain skills in the future. Especially with history, I always find it interesting to look back and connect the dots to see how we ended up where we are today. From the industrial revolution to the First World War to the Second, the Cold War — it all leads up to today.
This is the knowledge our society is built upon.
Side note: I still know what recidivism is thanks to my high school legal studies teacher and I’m thankful for that knowledge.
6. Mentally, you’re not fully developed.
If I was still the same person I was seven years ago when I finished school I probably wouldn’t be here.
I’d still think the universe revolved around me, or that the world somehow “owed” me something. It doesn’t. I wouldn’t be able to regulate my emotions (I’d like to thank three years of therapy for that) and I wouldn’t have a real sense of “self”.
I’d just exist.
A lot can happen in seven years if you let it if you find yourself at a point wishing you could go back to school then you probably need to reevaluate your life.
Yes, I’d love to relive the laughs, the shenanigans, the getting into trouble and the innocence of it all but at the same time, I really wouldn’t. Why would I? I’ve already done it once and there’s no right way to go about it. Everything I did brought me up to this point; sitting in a cafe, typing on my laptop. And while it may not be world-changing or groundbreaking stuff, it’s still a pretty good life. I know who I am even though at times I do forget. I know what I don’t want so I find a way to live my life that moves away from that. I know what I like so I incorporate those things in my day to day.