Ah school, the be-all and end-all of teenaged years.
I was eighteen, bright-eyed, bushy tailed and ready to get the hell out when I graduated high-school. I had grand and ambitious dreams of life outside of the classroom, which included not having to wake up at 6:30am every morning, and perhaps finally joining a gym. It was exciting times.
In reality, I really just wanted to get a full-time job. The last year or so at school had really been pressing on me – why did I have to sit in a classroom working when I could be getting paid to work? My patience had run its course. I started my first job as a waitress at a small café during my final exams and skipped my last assembly for the same reason. It was a complicated and yet very refreshing time of life. I had so much time! And I had absolutely no clue what to do with myself.
Maybe I’m not alone here. I’m certainly not the only person who has ever graduated and then found themselves thinking, now what while you eat your breakfast cereal. Leaving school is a wild and yet extremely deliberate step into your adult life and nobody can be prepared for that. Particularly not me, but I’ve done it and that’s an achievement in itself.
I never wanted to attend my last two years at school. At this point in Australia, it was still a choice whether or not a student could finish school at 16 years or stay on for the final two. I begged my parents to let me drop out and simply start working, and they said no. To date, I have only needed my HSC (obtained with the final two years) once, and honestly I wouldn’t say it was worth the two years. I did, however, get properly acquainted with the gorgeous boy who tutored me maths and couldn’t stop talking about trucks, and here we are, five years later, in love and still talking about trucks. I’m glad about that, so I suppose we really never know what life will bring us, and though my higher school years did little for me academically, they certainly changed the course of my future personal life.
This is very important to remember. Your final years at school were for me, more about developing as an adult than anything else. I attended my classes and adored my English lessons, but was always subconsciously aware that these things meant quite little to me. They are important, particularly if you plan to pursue a career in say, medicine or law (it’s not for everybody, case in point), but don’t disregard your friendships.
I wish that when I finished school, I would have gone a little easier on myself when it came to university. For most of us at school, university was the definite option, but for me it never sat quite right. In the end, I went to a private college to be trained in a career I never would have enjoyed pursuing and ended up in a lot of HEX debt. It was fun, but it was also a pocket of my life I could have invested elsewhere.
When finishing school, I wish someone had sat me down and asked what I wanted my life to look like ten years later. I would have told them something along the lines of, “a nice house, kids, husband and a secure job.” And they would have said, “ah! A nice house! In Sydney! How about you focus on making money.” And with that, I would have promptly shovelled all of my creative talents, interests and aspirations into the ‘hobby’ pile, and found myself a mediocre office job that paid well and offered me employment security while I went about building the life of my dreams. As it is, nobody told me this. We were universally told “find a career doing what you love,” which is a deathly statement for a creative type, because thank you but no I’d rather not be living in my parents’ basement writing poetry at thirty. I personally loved to write, so I studied journalism. I never wanted to be a journalist, and while I would have been able to cope in the career, it would never pay enough to please me, nor would it offer me the lifestyle I so badly wanted.
Occasionally I’m asked if it saddens me that my job is so mundane (it’s not) when I personally am so creatively-minded. This my friends, is where a hobby comes in. I blog and I write and I listen to music while I respond to emails. I take photos on weekends and read constantly. None of that is my job, for which I’m glad, because you’ll never find me complaining about a hobby.
This is my question: What kind of life do you want? I always planned to have nice things, therefore I don’t blink when someone asks me to work overtime, because any money I make contributes to this life. I also planned to have children and a nice home, meaning that I need time to put towards these things. I need a job that is secure but flexible in its hours. Corey often says that working in an office is his nightmare, but I would never dream of working anywhere else. The fact that I work from a home office is just an insatiable bonus.
If you’re finishing school now, I hope that you can visualise a life you might have in ten years. Mine flipped upside down and turned out to be completely not what I expected but totally better anyway. So don’t draw yourself a road map, just pick out certain aspects you would realistically like and do your damn best to get there!