13 lessons in 13 years of school

In the past month of my life, I graduated from high school. I know right, I can’t believe it either! It honestly does feel like I only started yesterday, and now it’s over. But upon thinking about the past thirteen years of my life, and how school was such a major part of it, I truly realised that I’ve learned a lot – not only things like “I before E, except after C”, or “V=AxH”. I’ve learned a lot about life, about myself, and about others. I’ve learned the value in the journey, and how so often the journey makes the destination worthwhile.

“…Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality. There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.” – Proverbs 1:1-6

I do sincerely believe that God’s desire is for us to keep learning and keep gaining new wisdom as we go through this life. And in this post, I’m going to get a bit vulnerable with you all, sharing things that I’ve learned from some minor to major mistakes, personal problems, and triumphs. So without further a do, here are the key thirteen things (accompanied by some very embarrassing stories) that I’ve learned in the past thirteen years of my schooling life:

ONE: Beginnings are very important, but they are only a small part of the journey.

First days, first times, and first experiences – Kindergarten. I still vaguely remember my first day of school. Kids crying with their parents; other kids dismissing them altogether and running off to play with the toy cars. There are so many different ways to experience a “first time”. But what I’ve realised is that the beginning is literally only the beginning… there is so much more! Keep holding on.

TWO: People will leave you along the way, and you’ll have to learn to accept that.

My first major heartbreak – my first grade crush left the school I was at without even saying goodbye to me. Although this is a completely ridiculous story upon reflection, I remember that I was so heartbroken at the fact that he had left me. I now realise, after many similar occurrences over the next years of my life, that this is often what happens in life. We can’t control it, but we have to learn to accept the fact that people will choose to take different paths in their life. We need to support and love them regardless!

THREE: Having the principal as your teacher has both perks and flaws – Perk: Substitute teacher! Flaw: Substitute was my aunty!

So I went to a very small primary school with about 120 students in the entire school. How crazy! In second grade, I had the principal as my teacher, and because being the principal of a school is a big job, we often had substitute teachers. This was great, until one day I walked into the classroom and saw my aunty sitting at the teachers desk. This wasn’t a bad thing, but what confused me was how to address her – “Mrs Cartledge”, or “Aunty”?????

FOUR: Don’t listen to the haters – “Doctor’s Penmanship”.

In third grade, I had the worst handwriting. It was so bad, that I was the last in my class to get both my cursive handwriting licence and my pen licence. My teacher even told me that I should be a doctor when I grow up – not because I was smart or showed an interest in being a doctor, but because my handwriting was THAT messy. But I did not listen to the “haters” or the overly critical teachers, and I kept practicing. Now I take so much pride in my handwritten works, purely because I know that I worked hard to change it!

FIVE: Dance aerobics is great for your health, but not great for your reputation.

“Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis will forever remind me of a dance aerobics routine we learned in year four as a component of Friday sport – mainly because whenever it would come on the radio in the car, my parents would imitate the moves we were forced to do. At a school assembly. In front of the whole school. Honestly, I’m still scarred.

SIX: Boys are not more important than your friendships!

This year of my life was a year of realising that friends needed to be a priority to me. I came to a moment where I realised that having good girlfriends by my side should be more important than focussing on boys; girls can go with you to the bathroom. Girls can help you with your hair, makeup, outfit, and they’re honest with you. Girls are the ones that will stand beside you when you do eventually get married. Girls are your sisters, and when you have good girlfriends, life is so much better! (And it’s the same for guys as well – although you have completely different values – i.e. you don’t really go to the bathroom in groups).

SEVEN: Don’t get a fringe. Ever.

Just listen to this advice, please. I have so many regrets.

EIGHT: Be brave and kind – Be yourself!

My first year of high school – another beginning, but this time I was more nervous. The school was 10 times bigger, there were established “cool groups” and I didn’t know where I would fit. I needed bravery. I wanted good quality friends that would stick by me for the next six years of my life, that would help me and value me. I wanted people that I could be myself around. I came to the conclusion that to find people like this, I had to be kind and be honest with people. Through this, I found some incredible friends that I still talk to often!

NINE: Always put your health and wellbeing first, even if it does mean sacrifice.

In eighth grade, I was overwhelmingly unhappy without good reason. I had not suffered major loss or trauma, but I became unhappy with myself and the life I was living. I lost touch with God and so many people, and that hurt me more than anything. After months of professing that I hated myself and the life I lived, I came to the conclusion that the only way out of this pit I’d thrown myself into was a fresh start. We had recently moved out of the area that my high school was in, so we believed that it was “God’s will” that I move to a new Catholic school that was opening in our new area. To start new, I had to sacrifice my friends, I had to set aside the complacency I felt in the school I was now used to, and I had to move on to something new. It was scary, but I knew it had to be done (and I’m now glad that I did).

TEN: You can’t always rely on people you’ve known for “the longest time”.

I was stuck in a place where I was placing all of my trust in people that I’d known since year seven. I truly did believe that these people had my back because of our history. It soon became apparent to me that you can’t base trust on how long you’ve known them – I’ve known my dog for eleven years and I still don’t trust him around my food! It is an unfortunate thing to realise, but you need to base your trust on more than time. It ties to the reliability of the person, not how long you’ve known them.

ELEVEN: Sometimes all you need is a fresh start – and a new haircut.

I will honestly say that I don’t regret cutting my hair, despite how often I claim that I do. Until the end of year ten, I had Rapunzel-worthy hair that everyone would comment on, and I did love it. One day I decided to change a lot about myself. I had just broken ties with someone who hurt me in so many ways, I’d reconnected with God’s purpose for my future, and I knew that I needed to do something physical to signify the changes in my life. I took the hair that I loved so much and cut it off so that it would grow back as I recreated myself. Sometimes you need a fresh start.

TWELVE: Live for God alone and He will provide what you need in His timing and His way.

Coming to the realisation that God is the one that actually plans and has planned everything is possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned while in school. I had to learn that I needed to stop trying to force things to happen, or trying to cut my own path. When God wants something to happen, it will happen in His time! Patience is important, remember that.

THIRTEEN: Cherish school while you can, because it goes so fast!

It has been almost a month since graduation, and I truly do miss school. I wish that I spent more time enjoying it rather than stressing. Make sure to enjoy and cherish school while you’re there, it will set you up for a life of greatness.

Through all of the drama, the stress, the embarrassment, and the chaos, I knew that God had my back, as well as my friends and family. School is such an important time in your life, you learn so much – not only academically, but about yourself and the world you live in!

Make sure to enjoy every second of it.

Love Chloe