Starting grade 12 is like standing at the starting line for your cross country race and seeing the 6km or four school terms ahead of you. It’s knowing you’ve run cross country 11 times before just like you’ve completed a school year 11 times before but this time, will be different. It’s knowing there are going to be times where you want to give up. When you’re too out of breath, assessment load too heavy, there are too many kilometres to cover, too many all nighters to pull. The finish line is there and it’s not moving any further away but it does feel like you will never reach it.
But the thing that’s different about grade 12 and running is you are allowed to take breaks. While running the whole way in cross country will get you to the finish line faster this will not work in your final year of schooling. Trust me, I tried.
In my final year of grade 12 I spent the first two terms taking seven subjects trying to maintain A’s in all of them, working two jobs, being in the school musical, on debate team, a captain of the SOS committee and having a social a social life.
No one is going to applaud you for running your race of grade 12 in record timing. No one wants you to vomit and collapse at the end of the finish line. Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion for an entire year are not signs you are doing the best you could, they’re signs you’re ruining yourself.
At the end of term two was after my hair was falling out from stress, I was always covered in bruises, I was always sick, always tired. My life became a nightmare routine of waking up, exercising, studying, going to school, going to club or committee meetings in my lunch hour, coming home, exercising, studying and then going to sleep.
In term three I could see what I was doing to myself. I remembered previous graduating year saying that grade 12 was ‘the best schooling year of their lives’ and I was wondering why this felt like it might be the last year of mine.
So I dropped to 6 subjects, I quit one of my jobs, the school musical had finished and going into term three I was relieved. Grade 12 isn’t just about getting good marks to reach the finish line ahead of everyone else in your grade. Grade 12 is about running along side everyone else, that’s puffing and heaving just as much as you but kinda still having fun. Don’t let the Queensland schooling system fill your heads with things about being on top of the ladder, don’t let them trick you into making this about beating everyone else. These people are your classmates not your competition. Help and encourage people when you can because at the end of grade 12 no one makes ‘the cross country team’. Everyone just gets sent out into the real world and that, class of 2017, is the most exciting thing yet.