When you left high school, did you know these 5 things?

Dear High School Nat – here are some things to know…






Dear 16-year-old self,

I know I’ve written to you before, but I really wanted to bash another letter out. Because that letter was all about behaviour and making sure that you know not to shoplift.

This one is about things I want you to know before you leave high school in just over a year. Because I know you, and I know you’re feeling quite lost. And you’ll continue feeling quite lost all through year 11, and year 12.

It’s the period of time during which you are bombarded with advice and possibilities and orders and pressures. All while juggling dozens of hormonal friends and trying to find a formal dress.

As a result, you will end up spending your first year out of high school working a part-time job you hate and doing a uni degree you’re not quite sure about. And even the combination of the two leaves you with a lot of spare time, so you really just spend all of 2009 eating cheese & spinach puffs, napping and generally being exceptionally unproductive.

Anyway. I’ve just finished reading Rebecca Sparrow’s new book, Find your feet (the 8 things I wish I’d known before I left high school). I know that I’m 22.5 years old now and therefore five years out of high school and therefore the book is not actually particularly relevant to me whatsoever… but hey, it’s Bec and I would actually read her shopping list (like a creep) if she would let me.


As a result, I’ve come up with 5 things I’d like you to know before you leave high school – hopefully they’ll save you some time and some tears. Some of them are from Bec’s book and some of them are my own creation. Please read carefully and then destroy so nobody knows you’re getting messages from the FUTURE.

1. Your parents generally know best.

Give up on maths.

This one is exceptionally annoying, but something you will regularly come to realise over the next however-many years. Your parents want only the best for you. Also, they are smarter than you and have been around for longer, having done many amazing things over the years, so they generally know what’s best for you.

So when they give you life advice – don’t dismiss it. When they hate your boyfriend (not that they ever tell you that, but you know it anyway) – there’s probably a reason. When they tell you that you shouldn’t just do a journalism degree because it’s damn hard to get a job in journalism – they are not trying to kill your dreams. They’re being practical. Stop being such a drama queen.

2. Give up on 2 unit maths.

You’re not a giver-upper – but it’s time to grasp the whole concept of “understanding your strengths”. You’re not good at maths and you never will be, so stop trying.


You will waste 4 days of excellent HSC-studying-time in 2008 trying to understand quadratic equations when you could be getting to know more about the Aztecs and conquistadors (what an excellent word) – something that actually makes sense in your brain.

3. Be ready to do work experience and start at the bottom.

This is an excellent point made by Bec in her book. Nobody waltzes straight into their first job and knows exactly what to do and how to do it. You have to start at the bottom, you have to be respectful, you have to expect to understand that you know nothing.

You already volunteer your time for a bunch of different things so keep up that attitude, and your willingness to learn, and you’ll eventually land yourself an amazing internship, which will lead to an amazing job, writing things like this very article on the Interwebs and having thousands of people read them.

4. Pick boyfriends that make you feel good about yourself. 

Bec quotes the lovely Zoe Foster in Find Your Feet: “I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time investing in men who didn’t deserve my mental real estate, and chasing men who obviously weren’t into me… ultimately, I chose to be the flame, not the moth.”

Find Your Feet

This. This. This. This. This. If a boy is not interested in you then back the f*ck away and save your energy for those who are interested, because believe me, they are out there.


This will make sure you avoid a situation in which your formal date LEAVES THE YEAR 12 FORMAL WITHOUT YOU. Without even telling you. But you’re not scarred or anything. Oh no. *cough*

5. Nothing ruins your life forever.

This, I think, is the most important lesson of Bec’s book and one that I really want you to understand.

When you are 16, everything seems like the end of the damn world. There is one break-up that will destroy you and you will be all, woe is me I will never love again. Then you will upset some girlfriends and they will spread rumours about you and you will be all, woe is me no-one will ever be my friend again. Then you will have a fight with your parents and try to run away from home because, hell, why not.

Know this: no matter how much you stuff up, no matter how silly you are, no matter how much it feels like everyone hates you – nothing ruins your life forever. Nothing. As Bec points out, people have short memories, and there’s always a way to fix whatever has happened.

Now get back to finding that formal dress of yours (go for the lower heels, they’re way comfier and you can dance late into the night). I’ll see you in a few years.



Find Your Feet should be compulsory reading for every high-school girl out there. If you know one that might enjoy it, buy your copy here. (I promise Bec isn’t paying me to say all these nice things about her. Not even in lamingtons. I’m just passionate about girls having a bit of guidance in their younger years, just as Bec is.)

What do you wish you’d known before you left high school?