I know that teachers have classes full of kids to teach and that sometimes they don’t have enough time to pay attention to one single student. But, here’s a couple of things I wish my high school teachers knew.

1. I am exhausted

I wish you knew that I am barely getting enough sleep every night. That classes, work, study sessions, training, eating, writing essays and exams are taking priority over my sleep. I am pulling all nighters to try and get enough done and napping through lunch to try and catch up. I am getting up early every morning just to make it to roll call on time, and not getting home till late at night. I can doze off at any time- on the bus, in the car, sitting in the quad at lunch so sometimes it’s hard to keep my eyes open when you are reading off a PowerPoint presentation in a dark room on a Friday afternoon.

2. I am trying my best

Please understand that I am trying my best. Even when I fail an exam or am late to class, I am trying to keep up. Please know that I want to do well and that I’m putting everything I can into it. The mistakes on my test aren’t there to piss you off when you’re marking and I am not purposely trying to do a bad job- I am just struggling.

3. I have other classes

I know that you want me to do my absolute best in your class, but I have other subjects and other teachers as well who are all asking me to do the same thing. I have homework, exams, assignments and essays from five different teachers and five different subjects. I cannot spend every second thinking about the exam questions you gave us to complete- I have major works, class quizzes, shifts at work, homework sheets, research tasks, sleep, soccer training and babysitting my little brother to balance it in with.

Sometimes, I won’t be able to do what you ask me to do. Sometimes it’s because I had an overdue assignment I had to prioritise, and sometimes it’s because it would require another all nighter and my body physically couldn’t do it.

4. The times have changed

You grew up in a different time and are probably part of a different generation. The times have changed and we are changing with it. Once upon a time students could leave school, pick up a trade and settle into a stable job. Or, they could go to uni, graduate, degree in hand and land themselves a job that they would probably stay in for the rest of our lives. Today? We’re faced with an increasingly competitive job market where stability doesn’t exist and a secure job is a thing of the past. Sometimes you might think our generation is whiny, or what we just don’t want to put in the hard work.

But trust me when I tell you that were running ourselves into the ground just to get ahead. We’re working casual jobs and side hustles with hours all over the place just to scrape together a bit of cash. We’ve practically been locked out of the housing market so don’t turn down your nose at us when we spend our hard earned dollars on travel or enjoying our lives. We’re facing the fact that we could possibly be the first generation to be worse off than their parents, so cut us some slack.

5. I need you to tell me it’s okay

Please don’t tell me I’m going to fail, or that I’m ruining my chances of achieving. That isn’t going to motivate me. I need you to tell me it’s okay that I missed a couple of marks on a short answer question, or that not getting my dream ATAR isn’t going to ruin my life. I need you to tell me that despite all the stress and anxiety, it’s going to be okay; that this will not be how I spend the rest of my life. I am under enough pressure as it is, so I wish you knew that instead of telling me off in front of the class, that I need you to let me know that everything will be okay.

6. That I have no idea what I’m doing

I wish you knew that I really have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing when I finally finish high school. Sometimes I will make something up and say I’m planning to go study advertising or finance at uni, or that I’m trying to decide between two universities. I’m lying because the truth is, I don’t have a plan. I am trying to take things day by day and trying to figure out what my life plan isn’t possible right now.

7. My mental health is struggling

I wish I could tell you about how I spend the afternoons crying on the way home from school. I wish I could tell you that the thought of my final exams gives me a panic attack and that if I think too much about life after high school I will be overcome with anxiety. I wish I could tell you that some days I barely have the energy to get out of bed and face the world, that making it to class is an accomplishment in itself.