To my kids,
I know you’re still in primary school, but I’m trying to get in early, before you get to high school and are buried for six years under an avalanche of assignments and assessments. Just a quick bit of advice. Don’t study too hard, okay? Unless you really want to, of course.
I have to say that I’m dreading the thought of you going through high school. It gives me flashbacks to my own high school years, which were the worst years of my life. I studied too hard. I cared too much about school. My self-worth was tied up in the marks I got for tests and the letters on report cards. (What? A B+? How could my teacher do that to me?)
In the end I did a degree where entry was decided on an interview, not just a Year 12 score. I went on to work with some brilliant people who hadn’t all been to university. And I wrote about TV for years and years. Yeah, TV.
I ended up wishing I’d watched more TV as a teenager. A knowledge of E Street and early Home And Away would have been far more beneficial to my career than a grasp of integral calculus. All those report cards were shoved to the back of a dusty drawer and never looked at again.
My kids, I just want you to know that you don’t have to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. Really, you don’t.
If you want to be a brain surgeon, because you have a genuine desire to save people’s lives, or a rocket scientist, because you’re fascinated by the mysteries of the universe, go for it.
Study your heart out. I will bring you cups of tea and massage your shoulders and run hot baths. I will drive you to every exam and say encouraging things and try to give you strength through my hugs. But if you don’t want to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, ease up. Relax a bit.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you could get the marks to do a certain course that you should. Leave it to the people who have a real passion for it. You don’t have to impress me or your teachers or anyone else. I’m not living through you. I’ve lived my life – yours is all yours.