Now I know high school can be a tumultuous period in our lives, full of cringe-worthy, embarrassing and sometimes painful memories that are better left in the past and forgotten. After all, it falls in those formative years where we’re all struggling to simultaneously fit in and find our own identity. By Year 12, everyone can’t wait to move on to the next chapter of their lives and leave high school behind. I was one of those people too, looking forward to what university had in store for me, but I was also hesitant and sad to leave the familiar school grounds in which I had grown up in the past six years.
I was quite lucky. I had a very positive experience at high school; I had good friends, good teachers (for the most part), I enjoyed my classes and I was a good student. I’m not going to lie, I had my fair share of drama, broken friendships and tears to get to that point, but by the time I reached the latter years of Year 10/11/12 I could positively say that I was happy. Yes, I’ll admit it, I was one of those students who actually looked forward to going to school every day.
Now, as a third year university student nearing the end of the year’s first semester, those high school years are but a haze of memories and nostalgia for me. As I go through my daily life now as a university student, I often look back on those high school days with a feeling of longing. Longing for those days where I could see my friends every day, not just as a fleeting moment at the beginning of a lecture. Longing for those smaller classrooms, where I knew each person in the class and where the teacher actually knew everyone’s names too. Longing for those after school band practices, and those excursions we would make to various band competitions and performances.
Looking back now, the work wasn’t even that hard either, even if it seemed like the worst thing in the world at the time. It is so much more manageable than the average university workload, trust me. You also don’t even have to worry about what you are going to wear every day either because everyone is just wearing the school uniform.
I also miss the routine that high school gave me. 9AM till 3:15PM every day, band till 5PM some days. The university course that I am enrolled to has a different timetable each week of the semester, so it’s difficult to settle into any kind of routine. I often wonder why it was so easy to wake up and go to school every day in high school, yet it’s a struggle to make it to one day of university a week. I think it’s ultimately due to the lack of routine my ever-changing timetable gives me (and also the long commute).
Being in the third year of university now, many people in my high school graduating year are now finishing their courses and looking for full-time work. And it boggles my mind, because it seems like just a while ago since my friends and I sat around in the VCE centre, chatting about class and the weekend while we waited for our sandwiches to crisp up in the toastie machine. We were all so carefree back then, without the weight of 10,000 word essays, assignments worth 20% of the unit mark and mid-semester tests weighing down on us.
I’ve since visited my high school a number of times since graduating, and each time I feel a pang of sadness as the place becomes more and more alien to me – this place where I was once so comfortable, that was as familiar to me as my home for six years, this place that I had attached such a strong sense of belonging to, was now somewhere that I felt like an outsider. And I realise that I can miss high school as much as I want, but it really is just a part of my past now.
It really is a case of not knowing what you have until it’s gone…so for all of you high school kids out there, cherish these years while you can. As for me, I'll continue to reminisce fondly on my high school memories but I'll look forward too to the future and what it will bring. After all, it's all a part of growing up.
Written by Anna.