The end of matric can be an emotional time. After 12 years of hard work, the finish line is in sight. Even if you’re excited to start the next part of your life, if you’re anything like I was, you’re also terrified about the unknown of it all. Here are 5 things I wish I knew at the end of my matric year.
1. Your matric marks aren’t everything
You may be super confident with how your exams went. You may be dreading getting your marks back. Even though your marks are helpful in determining where you are able to study and work after school, they’re not an indication of your worth as person. Your matric marks will never be able to measure how good of a friend you are, your creativity, how much people enjoy being around you, and your potential.
There are so many ways to live a good life and only a few of them include amazing matric marks. If you are concerned, there are ways to rewrite and build those gaps. But ultimately, your marks are just numbers, and they shouldn’t make you feel any more or less valuable.
2. It’s okay to take a gap year!
There’s a lot of pressure to jump straight into studying right after school. But unless you’re 110% sure about what you want to do, that can be an expensive mistake. Take it from someone who knows. If you’re uncertain, taking some time outside of the routine of school to figure it out can be super helpful.
Of course, this doesn’t mean sitting at home doing nothing. There are so many ways to build your skills and experience without the commitment of immediately jumping into a degree or diploma. Find a gap year programme that will teach you teamwork. Take short courses in industries that interest you. Volunteer for organisations that will expand your world view. Apply for a casual job and get some real-world working experience while earning some money. Not only will you learn more about yourself, you’ll also have a skill base that will help you navigate your studies and working life after that.
3. Always be learning
Learning doesn’t stop when studying does. There are always opportunities to learn something new – even when it’s not in the context of a formal course or qualification. Find tutorials about things that excite you. Learn skills and crafts that you’ve always wanted to try. Seek out seminars and events for things that you want to know more about. If you stay open to learning opportunities, you’ll always be an improved version of yourself.
4. You’re not going to stay friends with everyone and that’s okay
School is weird. You see the same hundreds or thousands of people every day, and find yourself calling people friends even though you don’t have that much in common. If you find that after school you don’t keep in contact with everyone as much as you did before, that’s completely normal. Learning to befriend new people is an important skill to take into your future. You’re always going to be meeting new people, so learning to let go when it’s time, and building relationships when you need to is always going to serve you well.
5. It’s okay to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life right now
I’m almost 30 and I’m still figuring this out. You’ll have so many experiences going forward that will teach you more about yourself and your interests. School offers a very limited set of opportunities. Once you step out into the real world, you’ll be faced with so many more options.
Don’t sit and wait for something to come to you, though. Find something that seems like a good idea for now and learn what you can from it, even if it’s not your forever dream. So many people who have changed the world only found the thing they’re known for later in life. Keep moving forward and keep looking for the things that make your heart beat faster.