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Surviving Year 12

There probably will be a time this year when you feel like giving up. You may already be there. Like the time when you thought you aced that essay or SAC and you got your mark back and you barely passed. Or you did seven practice SACs and your friend next to you did none and yet they got a better mark than you. You wonder ‘What is the point?’ You worked so hard and yet you can’t see that from your marks. So you think, ‘I may as well stop trying.’


Let’s look at Year 12. Year 12 is a group of kids competing to like themselves.

Everything is about marks. Everything is about results. You receive results for assignments, tests, SACs and exams. You look straight at your mark and instantly place yourself on the ladder. Everything in Year 12 is about the ladder. The better your mark, the higher up the ladder you go. The lower your mark, the lower down the ladder you go; and everyone can see the ladder. Your friends in the class ask what mark you got. Your parents, teachers, and everyone else all refer to the “ladder”. All your marks are compared to every other Year 12 student in the state and then put on the final ladder of Year 12.


The problem is that along with this ladder comes your ability to feel good about yourself.  The higher up the ladder you are, the easier it is to feel good about yourself – the better you feel, the more confident you are, the easier it is to keep going. However, the lower down the ladder you are, and everything starts to come undone.


It’s not just because you pass or fail an assessment; it’s because you keep comparing yourself to everyone else. You may have an idea where you think you should be on the ladder and yet the mark you get back has you further down than you thought. Because of that, there goes your confidence, your ability to feel good about yourself. Now the bad thoughts and the self-criticism come. Very quickly you get to the point where you say to yourself, ‘Well, maybe it would be easier if I didn’t try. At least then it wouldn’t matter nearly as much if I didn’t do so well. I wouldn’t care as much. (Unintentionally) I am now going to hold myself back.’


If there was no ladder, would you be stressed?

Stop comparing. Start living.

There are currently over seven billion people in the world. There are over seven billion different sets of finger prints. Your finger prints are yours – you are the only one in the world that has those ones. There are around 50,000 students completing year 12 in Victoria this year. There is still only one you.

You can’t change everyone else’s results, yet “What did you get?” is the question that is continuously asked. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. They are not you.

Don’t let the Year 12 ladder make you feel bad about yourself, or make you lose your confidence or make you give up. The only ladder that should be there is your little personal ladder – for you to use for you; for you to challenge yourself and to make goals for yourself only for you to see.

Instead of holding yourself back, run, run as fast as you can, let yourself be free to discover what works for you. If you didn’t do as well as you wanted to in something, then problem-solve it, work out why. Talk to your teachers and other teachers, research, talk to each other, try new techniques, study in a new place, challenge yourself. Set yourself goals, encourage yourself and ONLY compare yourself to you. Other people should be in our lives to inspire us, so by all means let yourself be inspired by other people but don’t use other’s results or what they say as a way to feel bad about yourself.

If you have a bad day or a bad result, you can actually change your thoughts, which can then change your energy for the day. Instead of focusing on the negative, i.e. the mark you got and feeling bad about yourself and thus blocking your ability to keep working, well, flip it – the mind is a very powerful thing. Imagine how you would feel if you got the mark you wanted and then take this feeling, this energy, with you to school and study for the next few days. (Try it; it really works. You can’t change what happened but you can change what happens next.) It will help you stay focused, positive and moving forward without giving up.

The only person you can change in your life is you. Change your thoughts. Use Year 12 to master life skills that you can use for the rest of your life. Let Year 12 be the best self-development year and not a self-destructive year. What skills you master this year you will take with you on your life’s journey – how you feel about yourself, how you handle challenges, how you problem solve and how you get the best out of yourself no matter what life throws at you. Practise feeling good about yourself because there is only one you. Liking yourself is the answer to so many of life’s questions.

Do Year 12 with you, not with the Year 12 ladder.

As Mark Twain said, “Comparison is the death of joy.”     


Burn the ladder.                      Get your joy back.



Mel Ryan    100% You

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