Twenty fourteen.

As I reflect on the year that has quickly come to an end, I have realised that there is no better way to sum up 2014 as the “Year of Challenges & Self-improvement”, as corny as that sounds. Out of the many valuable things I have learnt this year, I have refined the list down to just five. 

1. Be comfortable with who you are. 
Life is too short to be living each day trying to impress those around you. Do what you want, not what society tells you. Go against the grain. Be different. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Embrace your flaws, your quirks, your talents and your passions. You are you because of these things and who is to tell you that they are right or wrong? 
2. Listen.
Listen to other people’s opinions and thoughts, but be strong in what you believe and have your own opinions. Don’t be narrow-minded. Instead, be open and willing to understand other’s perspectives. You will not only gain respect from them, but you will learn to be accepting of others. 
3. HSC does suck. 
It’s blunt, I know, but it’s true. HSC does suck, but Year 12 as a whole has been one of the most incredible years by far. It has challenged me in ways I didn’t know I could be – mentally and emotionally. It has been a year of many highs and many lows. I have made amazing friendships at school that I know will last me a lifetime, but it’s also made me realise that there are some people I may drift from. There is minimal effort required with school relationships, because 5/7 days a week you are there. That said, the hardest part about leaving school is knowing that in order to maintain those friendships post-school, you actually need to be putting in a lot of time and effort now. 
But the thing I will miss a lot about school is, believe it or not, the uniform. I have always hated Mufti Days merely because I am incredibly indecisive when it comes to choosing what to wear. Uniforms made it so much easier, so here comes my first struggle of 2015. 
4. Do what makes you happy. 
Enjoy simplicity. Take your friends to the park and have a picnic. Go to a lookout with someone special. Take lots of photos. Follow your passions and work hard to become the person you want to. Do what makes you happy. If you aren’t 100% committed and saying “heck yes!” to something, then drop it. Decisions can be hard, but ask yourself, will this matter this time next year? Because if the answer is no, then why are you worrying about it?
5. Set goals and believe you CAN. 
Don’t give up on achieving your goals, even though I have learnt that sometimes you can try your hardest and still not quite be as successful as you had anticipated. A perfect example would be my HSC results. All year I have had a number plastered to my wall which represented the ATAR I needed to be eligible for my course. A few weeks ago we received our results from the Board of Studies and my marks were much better than I thought. I was pretty happy with how I had gone and as I averaged my marks in my head, I decided my ATAR would be within a few marks of what I needed. Unfortunately, all of my subjects were scaled down and although my ATAR was good, I was extremely disappointed that I had not achieved my goal. It is shattering when you strive to do your best and continually try, yet the results are not what you had worked so hard for. I broke down into tears – which reiterates my third point above. However, after some time reflecting over my results, I soon realised that I may not have received the ATAR required for my course, but I am eligible for many other similar courses. Days later I received an early offer from UWS and although I am still in the process of filtering through which university and course I would like to do most, it has allowed me to recognise that although I may not have achieved my goal, I tried my best this year and I am still able to study courses that I am interested in. Set goals and work hard to achieve them. If it happens to not turn out for the best, then look at it in a positive way and set a new goal, but never, ever stop trying. Because if you don’t try, you have already failed.

So as 2015 rolls in, I want to say goodbye and thank you to a year of learning and hello to the year of new beginnings. It’s scary and exciting all at once – bring it on. 

Keep smiling. x

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