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How To Find Meaning After High School Ends: A Survival Guide

It may be a tired and cliché topic but unfortunately, this is the reality that I must now face. The lull at the end of the stress inducing rainbow that was my final year of high school.

Now as an Australian student based in Victoria, the only years in secondary school that actually matter are Year 11 and 12, otherwise known as the dreaded VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education).

Within the past few days, I have received my ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) results and am now stuck waiting for the first round of university offers in January.

I have spent the last two years of my life preparing for the end and yet now that it’s here, I’m at a loss.

Dramatically speaking, I’ve been feeling as though my life has lost all its meaning. Whilst I do intend on attending a tertiary school, this considerably empty chunk of time that I’ve been left with has bestowed upon me the gift of an intense fixation on my regrets from the year. Not putting in enough effort, giving up too quickly, and letting myself succumb to pressure. Always flashing through my mind, never quite allowing me to be at ease. To put it quite bluntly, it sucks. Like a lot. During the first few days following the end of my exam period, I had trouble seeing the point in getting out of bed in the morning. Eventually, I found ways to pull myself out of my slump, a few things that helped me give meaning to day-to-day life.

1. Make Lists

It may be an obvious tool, but it really does work. Even listing simple tasks, such as taking a shower or eating breakfast, that are easy to achieve can give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to remain active. Also, lists are fun to make and overall are just great.

2. Read

Reading might not be for everyone, but it is a personal favourite for me. For the past two years, reading has been indefinitely sidelined in lieu of me pretending to study hard, but with an abundance of free time, I can finally immerse myself in – non-school related – books again. To me, reading is a way of not only passing time or enjoying oneself but also a way to explore ideas and other perspectives that may have never occurred to you otherwise.

I have to admit that I’m off to a bit of a rocky start because within the past week I’ve started three different books, all of which are now on the precipice of abandonment. Don’t be discouraged by my failure, though! I am fickle by nature, and I’m sure I’ll finish them soon. Probably.

3. Go Outside

Now, before you start hissing and clawing at me, please allow me, an absolute homebody, to explain.

Sunlight & Fresh Air = Good

That’s really it. Being outside just helps you feel like a person again, especially if you haven’t left you house in over a week. If you own a dog or other pet that likes to be walked, walk them. It’s good for them and it’s good for you.

4. See Your Friends

I do know that this isn’t always an option for everybody, but if it is possible, I highly recommend it.

Seeing your friends is like a balm to help smooth your transition into the real world.

Luckily, here in Australia, we have somewhat of a rite of passage called Schoolies. In American terms, it’s similar to that of Spring Break with the exception of it being more a celebration of the end of the school year. There is usually a fair amount of drinking and partying, whilst also being an experience often shared in close groups of friends. For me, it was a quiet week of going to the beach, watching movies, and doing fun things like going mini-golfing. You can really just make what you want of it. However, if such revelry is still not the best option for you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t spend some quality time with your mates. You could catch up with them at the movies or even just have a sleepover because sometimes even their mere presence can be all the support that you need.

5. Take A Break From The Internet

It may be difficult, but removing yourself from the toxicity of social media is like a breath of fresh air.

Even a few hours without a constant flow of information bombarding you from every angle can assist in calming you down.

Due to my own attempt at Schoolies week, I have spent the last week without access to the internet and it felt like a cleanse. Not only that, but it allowed me to draw my focus away from the stress of waiting for my results and truly appreciate the time I had with my friends.

High school may have been extremely stressful and especially hard to endure towards the end, but without the simplicity of its structure I’ve been left to flounder. Going to school has been the center of my life for the past 13 years, and I can’t even begin to imagine the obstacles that I’ll face now that I have to take charge of my future. So to everyone on the brink of finishing high school and to those, like me, who have just been shoved into the beginnings of adulthood, I wish you all the luck in the world, because I have a feeling that we’ll need it.

Voted Thanks!
Michelle Goodwin
Written By

Based in Australia, currently studying at university and looking to major in sociology and geographical science.

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