I am grade 12 student who has just recently graduated. You might call me accomplished, and in a way, I am, but not in the way you’d think. 12 years of pouring over text books and being lined up to be judged in front of my peers has not made me any more intelligent. I can tell you the first 45 digits of Pi and I can explain to you the difference between an acid and a base, I can recite the Pythagorean Theorem in my sleep, I will recite lines out of a textbook like they are a religion. But I cannot tell you the value of security, or of kindness. The distinct contrast between personal health and personal gain. I can tell you in grade 10 four of my classmates attempted to take their own lives before finals. I can tell you our counsellors office is always booked. I can tell you how when I didn’t understand something in AP Chemistry my teacher asked me to leave if I could not participate in his class. I merely asked him to explain a question. Instead of doing his job and teaching, he told me to leave. Told me I was not good enough to be there. Mistakes are viewed as failure in these hallways. A wrong answer is a sin you must atone to, not a human error, but a flaw so grand it defines your entire life course. There is no “average” here. We all must exceed expectations. Do your parents know that a grade that is considered average is a “C”? When I got a C in fourth grade my parents grounded me for a month. They said I was lazy and stupid and incompetent and that I’d better smarten up and stop fooling around. I never fooled around. I am driven by a deep need to impress others. I never fool around. I worked and worked and worked, with a deep hollow of anxiety in my chest. I have never been good at History, but I worked and worked and I attained at best a low B. It was not good enough. It is not said but we are expected to put our education before our personal health. It is not asked of us, but it is what we must do to achieve what we are asked to achieve. Our teachers will tell you, “Oh, I only give them one hour of homework each night.” Which is essentially true, each of my five teachers only gives me one to two hours of homework each night. Hmm, that adds up to 5-10 hours of homework, and overdue classwork, and projects. Say goodbye to sleep, say goodbye to feeling calm. I’ve developed a deep rooted anxiety disorder due to school and perfectionistic tendencies. Even when you get 100 percent on an assignment they still criticise you, it is never good enough. One slip, and you are in deep deep trouble. I can tell you that 90 percent of us try our hardest, and our teachers and parents stand in the sidelines, screaming, “You can do better than that!”
1. Your skin may never be perfect, and that’s okay.
2. Life is too short not to have the underwear, the coffee, and the haircut you want.
3. Everyone (including your family, your coworkers, and your best friend) will talk about you behind your back, and you’ll talk about them too. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other.
4. It’s okay to spend money on things that make you happy.
5. Sometimes without fault or reason, relationships deteriorate. It will happen when you’re six, it will happen when you’re sixty. That’s life.
If I could just not fuck something up that would be nice.