I’m calling it, Year 12 is killing our motivation.

I was always a pretty good kid in high school. I did my assignments on time, kept up with most of my homework (and copied my friend’s answers if I hadn’t done it) and never fell too far behind in class.

But when I hit Year 12, things changed. With each passing week I fell further and further behind until it felt like I was never going to be able to catch up with study and assignments. In Year 12 I’d be lucky if I got started on something earlier than the night before. Study was done during late night cramming sessions after I’ve procrastinated to the point of no return.

For a lot of us, Year 12 turns into a mess of exams and assignments with the constant feeling that we should be doing something but not actually doing it. We get sick of the same shit day in and day out. We know if we want a decent ATAR we need to get things done but we can’t be fucked to do anything.

We tell people we’re studying but the pile of deadlines and responsibilities never seem to get smaller and in the end all we can do is lay in bed zoning out or watching Netflix. Fuck making all the memories we were told would make up our teenage years, we barely have enough energy to get through school, let alone hang out with our friends. Dragging ourselves out of bed in the morning becomes harder and harder until we get to the point where we forget what it’s like to wake up without wishing we could go back to sleep.

Year 12 is killing our motivation because we all become so focused on this magical number that we’re told will set us up for the rest of our life. We’re pitted against each other and we’re killing ourselves mentally to get the highest mark possible. The competition is tough and we lose the ability to imagine a future where we’re doing something we actually love.

It’s no wonder that some of us throw our hands in the air and say ‘fuck it’.

But is throwing in the towel such a bad thing?

It’s time we realised that pulling ourselves out of the competition in our final years of high school is sometimes the best decision. I’m not saying literally drop out (although, if you want to do that go for it), but instead, we need to step back and realise there’s more to our teenage years than standardised testing and classrooms.

It’s time we acknowledged that our final number, the one we’ve spent thirteen years gearing up to, isn’t actually as important as we thought it was.

It’s tough. When you’re so focused on something like the ATAR for so long, it can be hard to let it go. But as soon as you do you’ll realise that your teenage years are about more than studying or sitting exams. They’re about growing up and moving on. They’re about going for drives with your best mates and crying over stupid crushes. There’s nothing wrong with working hard in school, but don’t let it consume you. Your teenage years are worth so much more than that, so don’t waste them.