On October 23rd, 2013, I graduated from high school. The grand class of 2013.
It’s been a year already, but I can remember the day as vividly as though it were only yesterday. I remember my last day of official classes. The excitement in the morning when you wake up and realise what day it is, the nervours jitters you get on your way to school and when you walk through those doors for the last official time. The last time you hear your homeroom teacher call your name on the roll or the last time you hear that first period bell ring. The excitement, the nervousness… it doesn’t fade throughout the entire day and you find yourself thinking back on the last six years, whether it was at the same highschool or not. You think about the friends you’ve made, the friends you’ve lost and the ones that you’re not really sure are friends but you say hello to nonetheless. It’s a strange feeling isn’t it? Everyone associates bad things and negativity with school but on that one day, that last day, none of it matters. You smile at every teacher passing you, because they’re looking at you like they know you’re about to graduate, you’re about to take those final exams and move on out into the big bad world and they know what lies ahead for you. You have no idea though, but they sure as hell do. On the inside they’re laughing a little bit and they’re proud of you, but the smile right back and say ‘good luck’ in the cheeriest voice they can muster up. Because it’s your last day.
I remember my last day so well. It was the last day of prank week, the day before the final ‘Muck Up Day’ parade and the official graduation ceremony that following night. I was so excited, but I was absolutely terrified. Just like everybody else I get anxious and I get scared. The thought of leaving the safety net that held me so securely for the past six years was finally ready to let me go but I wasn’t entirely sure that I was. The imbalance was breaking me apart inside but I joined in on everyone else’s excitement just for the sake of it. I had to, right? Everyone was so excited and so over the moon to be leaving the place… I didn’t want to be the one girl that wasn’t. Or at least I couldn’t show it.
The day ends, and you go home and it’s over. At least until that night when your mum drops you off at a friend’s house and you stay up until 2am filling up water balloons and finalising the last of the pranks. You have to get up at 4am for the parade, get things ready and head out into the city for that tradition your school has where the graduating year level gets breakfast together (the classic McDonalds) in the heart of the city. You watch the sun rise with your year level and you realise the endless opportunities that the world has for you and suddenly you’re happy. You don’t dislike any of the girls around you because suddenly none of the bad things they’ve ever said or done to you matter. In that moment you stand there in your ridiculous costume with people on the sidewalk watching on… But it doesn’t matter. You head back on the train with your year level, you get to school one last time and you’re absolutely more than ready to bring one hell of a Muck Up Day to the place. It’s freezing cold, barely 10 degrees, but you’re in shorts and a tshirt, throwing water balloons left, right and centre but you can’t feel the numbness on the outside or the inside. Everyone’s in on the blown out war and you can finally take out some sort of revenge on that teacher that marked you too harshly that one time. Sooner or later though, it ends and you’re left in the middle of the mess looking around at the carnage and you laugh. Everyone laughs. Everyone’s filming and somehow a crowd’s gathered around the place to watch. You take photos and try to get the excess water out of your hair and nose as your mum rushes over to you and wraps three towels around you (“You’d better not get sick girlie”)
That night, it’s time. It’s time to officially become a highschool graduate. You’ve practiced this before right? You know what to do, so when the music of that final mass starts and you’re all lined up and ready to go in… you smile again. As you hold the tiny candle in the heart of your hands, you hold your head up high and walk straight in. As you enter the hall, filled with loving family members, friends, teachers and strangers, you’re proud of yourself and you know that you can take on whatever life (or VCE) is about to throw at you. When the year level’s finished crowding around the hall and the music stops and the lights come on and you all start singing your ‘year level song’…. no one can take that moment away from you.
Then there’s the after party. You’ve got your certifice, you’ve taken the official photos, and now you’re ready to let your hair down and party one last time before the exams start. You fill up on cake and soft drink, you dance with teachers that have never taught you before and you jump into the arms of your closest friends and cheer for yourself. The night goes too quickly though, but you’re so glad that it’s over. That night you sleep more blisfully then ever with your cheek on the pillow. It’s still warm from when your mum and dad kissed you and said ‘congratulations, we’re so proud of you’ over and over again. You’d never get tired of hearing the words.
But all of that was a year ago, and I can still detail it like that. If you had asked me then where I’d be now I wouldn’t have been able to tell you at all. I could’ve recited to you my exam timetable like it was the alphabet but I wouldn’t have even known where to start with this. In only a year, so much has changed. For both the good and the bad but what’s life without a little bit of both? I think I’m happy. That’s the least I can say. Sure I’ve been a highschool graduate for a year but that doesn’t mean that I’m a 50 year alumni that’s walking the corridors of her mind to reflect on the wild time of her youth. No, I’m just remembering the easier times. They always say that your life never really starts until you leave highschool and in so many ways that’s true, but in so many ways it gets just as hard. You’re more independent and free and nothing’s planned or set in stone, but I guess that’s meant to be the fun of it.
So to all of you graduates of 2014 out there, take from what I’ve learned in a year very carefully. Don’t plan, be free, and be you. You’re ready to take that next step even though you may not know what direction that’s in exactly. Hell, I don’t…