Can you remember being a kid? When you were in primary school and you were just in one classroom all the time with ALL of your friends? You’d play handball or soccer every single recess and lunch and come home with next to no homework (maybe like one sheet’s worth). You probably had really big ambitions like being an astronaut or being a movie star, or the prime minister of Australia (you could probably do a better job than the last few we’ve had). You would just make things and run around and ask questions because you had an insatiable curiosity and it made you happy.
So think about whether your 10 year old self would be proud of who you are today? Would they be happy with how they turned out and be happy to one day become like you? Or would they be sad to see the person who trudges begrudgingly to and from school every day, complains about school and throws their bag on the table at home and flops on the bed doing nothing? Or the person who has finished school but is stuck in limbo? Would they be sad to see what they become? To see someone who’s forfeited their ambitious dream in order to study something that will earn lots of money, but won’t make you happy?
Dear all Year 12s:
To those of you who have finished your exams, congratulations.
The end of year 12 marks a momentous time in our lives. The end of our final exams signals the true end of your 13 years of schooling. Year 12 is a strange time in our lives, as while it can be full of many positive experiences, it also is probably one of the most mentally and physically altering and draining times of our lives. It can have a negative detriment on us mentally thanks to all the stress and all-nighters that we have pulled and for some of us (me being one of them) it was a time when our overall physical health took a hit thanks to the many hours spent hunched over at our desks studying, the unhealthy anxious (and procrastinating) hunger and general laziness. Now that you’ve finished, this is the time to turn that all around and become a better person. I’m sorry if that’s a bleak way of starting this article, but it gets better from here I promise. This is the time to reinvent yourself into someone your 10 year old self could be proud to become.
Here’s how to make sure that this isn’t what happens. To make sure that 10 year old you would be able to look at you and proudly think “I want to be like them when I grow up”
1: Never stop asking questions and being curious
Even if people think you’re dumb or if you think they’ll laugh or call you an idiot; don’t ever stop asking. Keep that insatiable curiosity that children have. Let it help you learn more about the world continuously and help you to grow. Sure not asking might save you from a moment of short term embarrassment, but it will save you possible confusion in the long run when you’re confronted with something. Being curious and asking lots of questions will never cease to help you. As Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
2: Never stop learning
But not like you did in school; don’t rote learn an essay or read a textbook. I mean actually learn something. Find things that you genuinely want to know more about that interest you and study them. Not because you have to in order to pass a test or complete the requirements of a syllabus, or because someone is making you; but because you actually want to. Because you’re genuinely curious and want to understand it better. Discover things you actually enjoy practising and practise them until you become a master. Then practise some more. Work towards that moment when everything falls into place and just clicks. Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
3: Time vs energy management
You have time and you have energy. Don’t devote time to things you don’t enjoy, because then you’ll have to put energy into them and it’ll feel like a chore. Put your time towards things you think you might enjoy and then you’ll want to put your energy towards them. The more energy you put towards them, the better you become at whatever you’re doing. Remember: passion is energy; feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
4: Do things purely because you enjoy them
Not everything you do has to have a forward direction or an end goal. Its perfectly acceptable to just do something because it’s want you want and what will make you the happiest. When you were a kid, you would jump on the trampoline or draw pictures for hours while never caring what people thought. So you just did it; purely and simply because it’s what you liked doing. That’s actually a pretty good life lesson don’t you think?
5: Be creative and imaginative
When you were a kid, you would paint and draw stuff. There’d be Lego sets at home that weren’t going to build themselves and “potions” to create out of all those weird ingredients in the kitchen. You and your friends would build cubby houses and backyard forts, play make believe fantasy games and write stories based in faraway worlds that you dreamed you could be a part of. Would 10 year old you be proud of what you’re creating and imagining now? Or has creativity and imagination been pushed to the side in the pursuit of what society deems to be “proper”? If it has, then maybe it’s time to take a step back and rethink what you’re doing. Is it really something you’re happy with, something that 10 year old would be proud to grow up and do?
6: Laugh more and be kind to others
When you’re kind to others, it makes you feel better about yourself. You’re not only making someone’s life better, but yours as well. If that’s not a good enough reason to be more kind then I don’t know what is. By laughing more, you’ll become happier as well. And I’m not just talking about that fake, sarcastic laugh that most teenagers do. I’m talking about finding things that make you happy and that make you laugh and genuinely showing you enjoy them. You become what you feel. So if you are feeling positive and good about yourself, then you will become a better person.
When you do these things, you will become something that 10 year old you would be proud to become. You’ll also become more of a role model to other kids that will want to become like you when they’re older too.
No matter what happens, remember, we were once kids that lived off of nothing but magic stuff we made up that wasn’t real. We shouldn’t be so quick to shut that part of our lives out as we grow older and make our way in the world. It’s what brings out the best in us, and the sincere truth about who we really aspire to be. We should always keep our childhood wonder intact and strive to hold onto our inner child.