It’s that time of year in Australia when the high school bell rings for the last time for students as they face VCE exams, finding a job or that puzzling question “What do I do now”.
Here’s 10 things I’d like to share:-
1. Take the time to thank your teachers, your leaders and mentors of your passions, the crossing lady, the bus driver, and your part-time job employer – anyone who has put the tools of happiness, growth and safety in your hands during your school years. In 20 years time you’ll reflect on how pivotal they were in your journey. Even that teacher you thought you couldn’t wait to see the back off.
2. Muck up in your break up, but buckle up and drive safely home. Don’t drink, do drugs or text while driving. Don’t be the designated driver if you aren’t up for the challenge. Don’t trust your life in a designated driver’s car if you have any doubt. Just don’t. Please. We all want you to arrive home safely.
3. If life sucks – make it different. Be the change you want to have happen to you. Life isn’t all instagrammed happy people and cool places – it’s frustrating, confusing, complicated, sweaty and sometimes boring. But it doesn’t have to suck. Whatever sucked in the last few years – now it’s time to change the flavour – sour to sweet. You own this lolly shop.
4. Be bold. Speak out. Help adults help you connect the dots of where you want to go, what you want to do, who you need to meet to get there. If you can’t do that by yourself tell someone. Maybe your parents can’t help you do that, but someone else’s parents can. Someone can help. Just be brave and ask.
5. Be patient. Be humble. We all need to start somewhere. Success is in being willing to put your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder and climb diligently and enthusiastically up. Along the way you learn and grow. Richard Branson, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg – they all started out in jobs that involved cleaning floors, folding brochures, setting up databases, unloading stock. From my own experience, I’ve made a lot of coffees for intimidating bosses, typed up boring minutes, stacked brochures in boxes and worn stinky wombat suits for PR events. Step-by-step learning and experiencing as I went along, and accepting this part of the journey. Just absorb each step you take, it makes you smarter.
6. Now about your folks. Or carers, or whoever made your lunches, washed your clothes, drove you to practice or events, begged you to do your homework, rummaged around Officeworks with you for that perfect project accessory and negotiated bandwidth. Give them a big kiss on the head. Then hug them. For more than 2 seconds. They love you, even when they’re screaming at you to put the iphone down. They love you fiercely.
7. Make a list. I know – how very parenty of me – but these lists and goals will help keep you focussed. Even if it’s written on the back a Macca’s wrapper. It’s a start. List what you’d like to achieve, by when, with who, what tools and outfits you need, if there’s more study ahead, where you need to live to do this and how much it might all cost. If you write it down it won’t hurt your head so much. If you write it down it’s easier to share. Fold that list up, put it in your wallet, and bring it out when you feel moments of doubt. This is your list. You are in charge of it.
8. Get some sleep. In night time hours. Study when the sun is up. Take breaks and breathe.
9. Exams. A necessary evil. An Everest to climb. Not everyone slays the dragon or gets to the top. But you’ve come this far – just give it a red hot go. Give it your best. There’s beautiful townsfolk with peace flags at the top cheering you on. And they are also down the bottom with soft cushions in case you fall.
10. Look beyond the exams and your final day of school. Look outside to the glittering oceans, to the backpack loaded on that plane, to the hot guy or girl looking back at you over their shoulder, that car you’ve wanted to rev the engine of, the tools in your ute and first day on the job, the office with the view and the silly cactus, the uni degree, that exhibition with your name on the invite. Look beyond the exams to your life in all its raw guts and brilliant sparkle. It’s all there waiting for you. That bright inspiring, confusing future! Go be dazzling. Go have some fun!
And one more thing?
Be OK about not having all the answers right now. Some of us are still trying to figure that out in Grown Up People Land. Just give every opportunity a whirl, try it on for size, throw it in to your suitcase of life experiences.
And just for fun, check out Dr Seuss’s best kids (and big peoples) book ever, “Oh The Places You’ll Go.”