Do you remember Year 12?
It’s the most bittersweet year.
It begins with the four-word compulsory item:
CLEAR. PLASTIC. PENCIL. CASE.
I mean, seriously. Translation: this is such a serious time that you can not even own a pretty/ crazy/ lovely/ personality showing/ normal vessel in which to hold your pens.
There’s never another time filled with such high levels of excitement, fear, anxiety, hope and hormones.
Today, it’s reaching its pinnacle for 220,000 Australians, who are about to sit their final exams in the coming weeks. All of them – plastic pencil cases at the ready.
In hindsight, I remember my final year fondly. My brain was such a well-oiled machine. My entire life so dedicated to one set of exams. I was cleared of pretty much every commitment except for breathing so that I could perform at my peak. I had little appreciation that this would never, ever happen again. Ever.
Because life isn’t like that.
Year 12 isn’t real life.
Real life is what happens after.
LISTEN: Speaking of ‘after HSC’, a young guy takes Holly Wainwright and Ben Fordham through a typical day on schoolies. Post continues after audio.
It’s a bubble full of expectations. Expectations from everyone. Including yourself.
In my final year, I spent months carrying around a pencil case – a clear one – filled with regulation calculators, a favourite ruler, protractors, blue pens, emergency tissues and a variety of highlighters. And amongst all of that were my friends – my fellow-panickers and support crew – facing the monstrosity with me.
Now, I carry around my work laptop, emergency sultanas for my kids, thongs incase I’m caught off-guard and need to walk too far from the carpark to Woolies and a bunch of doctors’ bills waiting to be claimed at Medicare.
But I know, THIS life – a real life – is so hard to imagine. A Year 12-er cannot think beyond a UAI, uni and travel. The rest is just “out there, somewhere, in the future”. It’s all so far away. Getting MARRIED. Having a BABY. Wha?!
I finished my HSC in 2001.
And you know what brings on the flashbacks? Jacarandas. Yep, the trees.
Jacarandas give me flashbacks of my daily timetable and the people I studied with.
At this point in the year – October – Year 12 quickly becomes about four types of students:
1. Those who study.
2. Those who pretend to study.
3. Those who don’t care.
4. The secret studiers: those who pretend they don’t study, but do.