High school me was focused on exams, ATARs, uni offers and getting ahead in my career. Enjoying the structure and stability of school was the last thing on my mind and all I wanted to do was get out of there and start living as an adult. Looking back, I wish I could tell 17-year-old me to ease the fuck up- you have so much time ahead of you to do the adult stuff, so enjoy being in high school while you can.

1. Don’t say no to hanging out with your family

When your dad asks if you want to see a movie or when your mum wants you to go for a quick trip to the shops, don’t say you need to study. When your little brother asks if you’ll kick a ball with him out the back or your big sister wants you to help her get ready… put down your books and do it. When you have a family dinner don’t yell from your room that you don’t have time. Realise that study is never more important than your family.

2. Don’t be in a hurry to grow up

I know you’ve spent most of your life wishing you could grow up, waiting for the day when you hit milestones like having your licence, buying your first car, moving out of home and making your own decisions. But don’t be in a hurry to grow up. You have your whole life to be an adult so enjoy being young and make the most of your teenage years.

3. You don’t have to have it all figured out

I know your teachers and your parents want you to have the next five years plotted out and you might feel like you need to have a timeline set in stone. But trust me, now is not the time to stress about figuring it all out.

4. Everything changes after graduation

You will say goodbye to some friends and drift away from others. You’ll stop visiting your favourite teachers and your old classrooms. People will change and you will too. Don’t get caught up in the idea that this version, this 17-year-old, is all there is.

5. Just because you’re invited doesn’t mean you have to go

Say no. Don’t surround yourself with people out of obligation. If you’d rather spend a night watching Netflix instead of getting smashed at some random’s party- stay home. Spend time with people because you want to, not because you think you should. In the end, it will be the good times spent with your friends that you’ll remember.

6. You will be okay without them

You will be okay without the high school crush who broke your heart and your best friend who moves away for uni. You will be okay without your teachers guiding you and without the familiar setting of your classrooms. You will be okay without the people you have spent the last six years with- trust me.

7. First times are messy

First kisses that are awkward and filled with too much saliva. First days at uni when you get lost on the way to class. First essays where you barely pass. First times where you are fumbling and giggling and it’s nothing like the movies. First shifts at new jobs where you drop a plate and swear in front of a customer. First times will be messy but they will also be memorable.

8. Don’t waste being a teenager

Go on late night maccas runs and sit in the car for hours talking about everything. Spend your money on whatever you want without stressing about paying any bills. Eat the pizza and drink too much at your friends 18th birthdays and wake up the next morning ready to do it again. Laugh with your friends over inside jokes until you’re in tears. Don’t waste time stressing about growing up.

9. It’s okay to not know what you want

And it’s okay to change your mind when you think you have finally decided. You are young and have so many experiences and so much life ahead of you to figure things out.

10. You will miss it

You will miss the structure of school bells and timetables. You will miss sitting in the same seat every Maths lesson and that spot in the quad where your group sits every recess and lunch. You will miss the teachers that made the days a little less shit and the friends that got you through. Hold onto it while you can.

photo cred: mathryn

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