Eleven years ago this month, we were the High Achievers.
On a sticky morning in December, 2008, we stopped at a newsagent to buy The Daily Telegraph. According to a few frantic phone calls, we were on the front page.
Sure enough, there we were. It was an appalling photograph. More than a decade later, it still is. As we bought the paper, we smiled creepily at the newsagent – who completely ignored us.
We were twins who had received almost identical results. We both got Premier Awards, and one of us topped the state in Extension History, while the other came fifth. Back then, it was a UAI instead of an ATAR, and we got 98.50 and 98.30.
They weren’t the top marks in the state by a long shot, but it was an easy story for journalists to run with. Twins doing weird twin sh*t, etc. Works every time.
A television crew was at our house the morning we opened our results, and we were interviewed by a bunch of radio stations. There were photographs and sound bites and lots of people exclaiming “Congratulations!”
It’s hard to say who was more surprised. Us, who had never been called ‘High Achievers’ in our entire lives, our parents who had never considered us High Achievers in our entire lives, or our teachers who were just pissed off because we were always forgetting a blazer or a hat.
We were the High Achievers, and for a while it was all exciting. There was a fuss and Dad rang our grandpa and one of our teachers cried.
Watch: Mia Freedman on life after Year 12. Post continues after video.
But over the coming days, months and years, we’d discover a secret. A few secrets, actually.
Awards don’t actually make you feel… anything.
The funny thing about other people’s approval or even adoration, is that it’s something you can’t feel. That’s their feeling. Not yours.
You’re left wondering why these external achievements haven’t overwhelmed you with pride and contentment. And it’s because it’s just an impersonal, arbitrary metric. The moments that made you proud already happened. Like the moments you were tired and kept working, or were disappointed and persevered. They’re real regardless of whether or not there’s an award at the end of it.