It’s not you, it’s me. No truly, it’s me. I know it’s quite possibly the most cliché and coward way to break up with someone but it’s a line I, unfortunately, dropped to my partner in Year 12 when I called it quits on our relationship.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll call my partner (ex now) ‘Sam’.

Sam and I had been dating since the beginning of Year 11. We had a crush on each other for quite a while and by quite a while, I’d say since Year 8 tops. But neither of us had the guts to go over and ask each other out, it was all very much like puppy love back then.

But one night at our mate’s party, we kicked things off. With some help from my good ole pal Smirnoff Vodka, we chatted, added each other on Snapchat and then the rest was history.

Just kidding, but we spent most afternoons after school snapping one another and on weekends we’d hang out. After having our first kiss, we started to date, so obviously, we had to change our Instagram bios with each other’s initials and make it Facebook official.

Year 11 was so chilled with Sam. We’d had the perfect balance between studying and seeing each other. We’d always have time and it just worked.

As Year 12 crept around, things started to change. Teachers told us that this was the time to really buckle down and my parents said I had to focus solely on school to make sure I’d get a good ATAR. In hindsight, I think they were subtly not approving of Sam and this was their trump card against me.

I didn’t want to break up with Sam just because my parents said so. But, I knew that I had to actually focus in Year 12 if I had any hope because I wasn't a great studier and had a tendency to leave everything to the absolute last minute.

So, a couple of weeks into Year 12, I broke the news to Sam. “It’s just not gonna work out” I said, and I won’t forget the face that Sam made–perplexed and hurt. I tried to comfort Sam but they just weren’t interested in hearing it. We were in the quad and they made a massive scene.

I felt pathetic breaking up with Sam just for the reason to focus on Year 12. But I knew that I was going to be a crap boyfriend anyway. We would have gone through a lot of unnecessary drama just because I’m a bad multi-tasker and I didn’t want to upset them and make them constantly wonder why they aren’t enough because of my poor habits. 

And you know what I learnt from the whole situation? Ending things with Sam was just the start of a long list of things I did for the sake of Year 12. I cut down on the sport I was playing, I saw my friends less so I could study and said no to family events when I had big assignments coming up that I hadn't started. I stopped doing the things that made me, me, because I had it in my head that that was the way to get through the toughest year of high school–that putting my head down and focusing on study was the only way to go.

I'm not saying breaking up with Sam was the wrong decision but I know that if I had my time again, I'd put more effort into the parts of Year 12 that turned out to be more important than my grades. I'd spend more time with my friends even if it meant not having that extra hour to cram before an exams, I'd enjoy my holidays rather than stressing about all the assignments I should have been starting and I'd keep doing all the things that made me feel like a real person, rather than just a number in a system. 

Year 12 is a big year–the most important academic year of your life so far. But once you finish you'll realise that in the scheme of your entire life, this year is just a tiny blip and looking back you're going to wish you enjoyed it more–you'll wish that you made it about more than exams and studying. Trust me.

And Sam, if you're reading this, I'm sorry–maybe we should give it another go?