“So, What are your plans for after School?”

I said I’d be back after I finish school, so, I guess, I’m baaaack.

Kay so I’m just gunna jump right into this, I finished school the other day.

And in finishing school, I found myself to be a complete emotional and intellectual paradox; dichotomised between hopeful uncertainty and unwavering self-assurance.

I felt equally compelled to cling to the people I’d grown up with as I did to completely disregard my friendships and invest in once again transforming my social circle. I found myself completely sure of how I wanted to feel and think for the rest of my life, with an entire plan to get me there. And yet no recollection as to how I had already decided on my life for at least the next two years, or where that process started.

I realised that my plan after school had a fairly major o-zone sized hole… it didn’t involve a plan of continuation. I mean, I know what I want to do from here on out, education and career-wise, but I didn’t consider how or if I would make an effort to cling to and further develop the relationships I formed in school. Or if I’d gently accept that that part of my life has run its course, and it’s time for new people who will lead to new ideas and experiences.

I also realised that within my lack of contingency plan, I hadn’t considered whether I would continue to learn about the things I have been introduced to, through some of my classes, or if I should accept my knowledge and move on to new things. I don’t know if that’s a problem everyone has, because some people probably don’t have a massive interest in the things they learned… and I’m not quite intelligent enough to just embrace the nerd label. But I do plan on indulging my millennial right to explore my personal curiosity for the rest of my life. Ya know, since I don’t have to fight a war or anything, I have time for that…

As a result of this whole undecided dual minded frame thing, I don’t really know where to go with this post, but I’ve reached a reasonably solid decision that I’ll probably in many ways, let this last phase of my life fade over the next year or so without too much resistance. Ya know, que sera sera and all that jazz.

I still feel equally compelled to recount the last 13 years of my life and evaluate how they have made me who I am today, as I do to completely shut off the past and focus entirely on my future that I am so so so excited about and ready for. Not that it really matters because this post is probably more for my own self-evaluation than it is to inform or entertain anyone else… but I’m gunna try to do both, to an extent. I want to really quickly indulge sentimentally and say thank you, but in a way that keeps me excited for the next few years.

So here goes;

Part I: Thank you

Ironically, the day I left school, I expected to leave behind 13 years of learning, and yet I learned as much as any other day.

That day, I learned the difference between sad and nostalgic. Between ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you, good luck’. I discovered, most unexpectedly, that there are more than two ways that people feel about leaving school. Before that day, I thought there were people who were scared and people who were excited. I was wrong. To my knowledge, we were all somewhere on a spectrum of both.

I want to mourn things that aren’t even dead. Friendships that haven’t ended. Information and passions that I will most likely continue to learn about.

Thank you to modern history, socialist theory, Russian history, advanced english, Hamlet and George Orwell. I will probably not abandon you, and y’all have changed my understanding of the world around me, and I love not being completely ignorant. I don’t know what I’ll do with my life exactly, but there were particular ideas and topics which really did change my worldview and taught me that I’m kind of incapable of mild interest. I’m completely disinterested or insatiably obsessed. Thank you because I think there’s a certain level of pretentious motivation that you gain from knowing specific things in detail, and I think, to write for a living, you need to be a certain level of pretentious, hahaha.

I didn’t overly enjoy waking up early or the school campus itself or having to sit on a chair and wear shoes and skirts on a daily basis and interact with people I had no inclination to be friends with.

But I enjoyed the things I learned and the people who taught me those things.

To all the people who endured my rants about things you probably didn’t care about, to those who facilitated or even encouraged my contemplations of things I learned in History and English, or of people and situations, thank you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that fact that not once was I ever shut down for the things I loved by my friends. Thank you, and you’re welcome because now all of you know too much about the Soviet Union and I hope that information helps you win meat platters at trivia nights when you’re middle-aged. Meat is expensive.

I’m highly critical of the idea that I will ever share that specific and unique type of relationship like the ones through my adolescence. While I don’t want to infer that our experiences as adolescents play the most critical part in developing who we are as people… I will with no doubt acknowledge that to a large degree, we shaped each other. Because school, and notably high school, kind of legally forced us to interact with such a spectrum of different personalities.

There were the smart kids who gave me something to work towards, who shared their notes when I was too lazy to do my own work hahaha. Some kids were mean and angry, and they taught me patience and understanding. Some kids were kind, and they taught me faith. Some kids were funny, and they showed me how it feels to have my face turn bright red, my cheeks and stomach aching, short of breath and truly happy. There were kids who I knew who taught me so so much about life in general, who advised me and supported me.

I’m so proud of the people I’ve seen grow, genuinely honestly proud. I’ve seen nearly all of my friends work from being a 14-year-old angsty, entitled, arrogant and ignorant shits, to an understanding, considerate and unique young adult.

There are so many examples that spring to mind.

I have a friend who gives the most incredible hugs; I have several of those. Thank you for the days and nights where those hugs fixed everything.

I have a friend who always knew how other people were feeling without even asking. Thank you for showing me that knowing and understanding are very different things. I have a friend who had the most astonishing incredible ability to turn her pain into art. Thank you for inspiring me, and making me cry every time I read one of your stories or poems.

I had a friend who took me to church. Thank you for teaching me that maybe I don’t believe in God himself, but I believe in humanity and earth, and they will never let me down for long.

I had a friend made me laugh every single day without fail. Thank you for having my back.

I have a friend who I swear shares a brain with me. Thank you for growing with me. Beyond words, thank you.

I have a few friends to whom I was mean for a while, who put up with me when I was in the hands of the cruel puppeteer called ‘teenage angst”. Thank you because you were mostly patient and understanding and taught me so much about what it means to be kind. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for humbling me.

I have a friend who gave the most incredible advice and excitedly yelled “HI T!” at me since the day we met in year 7. Thank you for sharing my appreciation for you, and thank you for remaining so caring and sweet no matter how you got treated.

I have a friend who always put others before herself, and has innate wisdom with no discernible source. Thank you for making me look up and teaching me about the kinds of people I want in my life and what makes everything worth it.

Thank you to everyone who fed me. With food, knowledge, music, celebrity gossip, experiences, time, words and hugs.

Thank you to those who sat on buses with me.

I had friends who left before we finished, who still have my back today. Thank you for checking up, for the hand-written letters and for certainty.

I really really genuinely and honestly hope for the best for all of you.

This part is going to sound wanky, but I have a good handful of teachers in mind who have no clue how instrumental they were. Most of my English Teachers and History Teachers, my Year 10 music Teacher, my Year 9 & 10 Science Teacher. My Year 11 Legal Studies Teacher. Teachers, please know that your job matters. I want my future career to matter like that.

Part II: What’s next?

Okay, this part is my final answer to the question I’ve avoided answering every day for the last six months or so; “what are you doing after school?”

Here’s what I’m doing…hopefully. Maybe. Unless life happens another way, cause that’s cool too, as I said que sera sera.

I applied for early entry to a number of universities, I’m hoping for a bachelor of journalism-communications and media at Wollongong. Because it makes sense, I have family there and I just like the area. There’s things to do and places to go, and at the same time, it’s not as congested and gross as Sydney. A good balance. That said, I don’t really need to go. I could do what I want to do without doing uni, but right now that’s what I want to do. It could change though. I’m just aiming to give myself as many opportunities to choose from as I can.

However, if I get accepted, I don’t want to go straight away. I want to stick around in dubvegas for a year or two. Turn 18, learn to drive, make as much money as I can, do some Tafe courses, and a photography course would be good. I want to get more involved with groups around town who share my interests. Planning to have my teeth fixed to an extent, basically get money and set myself up with whatever skills and or qualifications I think will make my life easier and/or enjoyable. I want to make sure I keep writing and get into the rhythm of finally writing about what I really want to write about, instead of essays on the importance of Paul of Tarsus to Christianity. I want to change my hair, not symbolically or anything, just because I’m sick of my hair the way it is and I’ve been waiting until after formal to cut it. I want to have one major project; I don’t know what it is yet. I want to put some effort into piano again too, because the last two years of school have taught me a lot, but it also left me with no time for music, which used to be really essential to me. That was in no particular order, but there is my answer.

Side note; there have been at least five times this year where I have made the complete effort to tell someone what I want to do after school. Really, my parents and I are the only people who know. But every time someone asks me, I brush the question off, make a joke or something, or vaguely answer, honestly just because I’m sick of being asked and it’s so annoying to explain when I’m not even set on it. Anyway, on these occasions where I’ve explained, I’ve either been misunderstood by people who think that journalism is just newsreaders (for future reference, I’d literally rather die than be a TV Reporter, noooo thank you), or people who think “journalists are a dying race”. To those people, I’d like to say; you’re wrong. Yes, print media isn’t flourishing. But have you heard of BuzzFeed? Have you read a book lately? There are so many ways to be involved in writing, media, photography etc. And yes, I see the argument. The internet and social media does to some extent mean that everyone is a journalist, and thus none of us are. But you need to have some respect for the individual human voice. The next person who tries to tell me journalism is dead, good luck to you.