I am pretty happy with how my life is right now. There are absolutely things I’d like to change (like the fact I cry about everything, and didn’t pursue playing guitar), but overall, I’m happy with where I am. So while I’m okay with where I ended up, this is some advice I could have used, and could hopefully end up helping someone else:
- School isn’t as important as you think it is. I was an overachiever at school. I wanted top grades, and I worked hard for them. I was super proud of my grades once I got them, but that feeling fizzled away within a couple of hours. I put myself through way too much stress for too little reward. In NZ at least, you don’t need top grades in every class to have a good future.
- Get a job. Technically I did have a job during high school, but it offered minimal time commitment and money. Considering how much free time I had, I could have handled working more than 4 hours a week. It would’ve been great to get a head-start on saving money – maybe then I could have afforded to buy a Ravenclaw jumper at the Harry Potter studios…
- Take a year off once you finish high school. At least. Considering how expensive tertiary education is, I suggest waiting until you actually know what you want to do. I was lucky enough to find subjects I loved at uni, but that was essentially a complete accident*. Not to mention that getting experience in the real world is invaluable. Get a job, learn how to save (and spend!) money, see what it’s like to look after yourself. I went to uni straight from high school, and while I don’t necessarily regret it, I think I could have given myself a break before leaping into tertiary study.
- Don’t think university is the only option. It’s not. All the people I know who didn’t do the uni thing now boast either very impressive savings accounts or own houses. Obviously money shouldn’t be your sole motivator, but do keep in mind that getting your Bachelors isn’t the only way to earn a living. Plus student loans take a long time to pay off.
- It’s really not a big deal if you’re not dating anyone. I spent way too long thinking there was something wrong with me because I spent much of my youth single. Way more people than you think spent their teenage years without a significant other. Plenty of people don’t start dating til they’re well into their 20s (or even later!) and it’s not because there’s something wrong with them. I feel like relationships are really down to chance** and timing. And while every relationship (romantic or otherwise) teaches you something, it’s no big deal if you didn’t get to experience a tumultuous 3 month relationship with that guy from that party and you were sure he liked you but then inexplicably stopped replying to your texts. On a related note…
- If they don’t text back, move on. If they can’t muster the effort to reply to you, they aren’t worth your time.
- Take more photos. When my 21st birthday rolled around, I wanted to have a photo-board showing different parts of my life, but I noticed that there were basically no pictures from ages 14-18. I wish I could have had a reminder of where I was at during that time, even just so I could laugh at my eyebrows and experience that weird feeling I get when I see myself with my natural hair colour.
- Chill out with your weirdly strong opinions about irrelevant things. Your extreme music snobbery will embarrass you one day. Not drinking alcohol doesn’t make you anything except sober. Being good at spelling doesn’t mean you’re super smart, it just means you had access to education.
- Cherish your passions – even if they aren’t “sensible”. I know so many people who had a burning passion for something during high school, only to abandon it in favour of focusing on something more “sensible”. You don’t have to go on to be a professional artist, but if you love drawing, you should keep drawing. My initial choice to study law was built on the idea that “it’s not what I’m interested in, but it’ll probably get me a good job”. And I was utterly miserable. Sure, a lot of the ~real world~ is built around being ~sensible, but the real world is made up of artists, musicians, and dreamers too. Who says you can’t be one of them?
*I needed to pick up an extra class after I quit studying law and I thought LING101 sounded okay. Fast-forward four years – I now have a degree in Linguistics.
**fun fact: I briefly met Lox one night in 2013, and again when I returned from exchange in mid-2014. Several months into our relationship, we recounted things we did in the past and realised we had almost met so many times. I’m beyond thankful we met when we did, after we’d both had a chance to grow up and have our own adventures first. If I’d actually met him at that gig in 2010, I doubt we’d be together now.