I didn’t go back to my high school to relive old memories or visit my teachers. I literally just wanted to drop off my old textbooks; after burning all my notes, those books were the remnants of a set of exams I was keen to forget about.

But, despite the fact that I wasn’t interested in a trip down memory lane, it hit me anyway and it made me realise that high school becomes a home that you don’t realise you’ll miss.

As I walked through the entrance, it was recess, and the quad worked in the exact same way as I remembered with all the cliques, sitting in their designated spots.

The old Year 11 girls had promoted themselves to the Year 12 area, but the Year 11 guys were still playing handball. A hash brown roll was squashed on the asphalt and a teacher waved hello.

It felt foreign walking around the place in jeans, but it felt even more bizarre walking around the place without my year group scattered around the place. I bought a sausage roll to alleviate the sadness. It worked.

I walked through the library and looked at the study room where I nearly tore the wallpaper off after being stressed about my major work.  I wish I could go back and tell myself that when I finally finished and submitted my body of work, it was going to be something I was really proud of.

I walked through the quad again, but by this time recess was over.

At the sound of a bell, recess chaos fell silent; students made their way to their classes. I stood there for a bit, trying to take myself back to just another boring recess. The predictability of a school day is something I miss.

The window of my old English classroom can be seen from the quad, and looking at the tiny Year 7 kids reminds me of my own experiences of starting high school; memories of being an idiot, borrowing pens and lighting things on fire with the Bunsen Burner in Science.

It’s funny how nostalgia can tint your memories. At the time, I was just being a kid and doing stupid shit to annoy my teacher, but now, I can see how that class, and many others like it, really shaped the person I am now.

The exam hall was on my way out of the school, and as I saw the doors, I stopped. I remember that distinct feeling of release after finishing my final exam. Looking at those doors was like looking at the start of a new life, the start of my own path.

I remember, on one of my first days of Year 7, being told that these next six years would be over before I knew it. I couldn’t believe it–I had hundreds of Maths classes, exams and assignments to slog through first and it felt like I’d never reach the end. Finishing high school was too far away to even comprehend.

Hindsight is a funny thing though, and when you walk out those school gates, as cliche as it is, you realise that those years do fly by, so make sure you enjoy them–you don’t get another chance to make the most of your teenage years.