Wednesday, 8 January 2014

High School: A Reverie

Hey guys: Tayla here.
Now, I'm not one to set goals very often. That might sound strange, and a little weird as generally school students are forced to strive towards common goals throughout their time at school. But, personally, I feel as though writing or even vocalising my goals forces them to be unachievable. Weird right? 

I prefer to keep my goals hidden: 'secrets' if you will. My deepest desires, wants and objectives are produced and focused within my own head in order to create something achievable. This is what I usually do. Instead of telling my teachers or peers that "I'm going to get an VHA in four classes this semester", I simply tell them, "Oh I'd like to do well this term". This enables me to keep that secret desire in my own head and work towards it at my own pace, without the fear of failure and the pressure of peers, and generally I achieve said goal. This has been my method for my senior years of schooling and it worked for me and I achieved things I never thought imaginable for myself.

I spent grades 8 through to 10 as a very average student. D's, C's, B's and A's were poignant in my report cards. I was what you'd call an "all over the place" teenager. I worked very well in my favourite classes, but put in little effort in the ones I despised. The school I was at had a very strict environment and it really wasn't for me. Personally, I feel as thought if you weren't a high achieving or talented kid at that school; you were classed as dumb. It wasn't a good place, and I thought I would leave school with very average results. Luckily (or unluckily- depending on how you look at it?!) my family decided on a big move to a different city where I would attend a different school, and have a very different outlook on education. 

We moved to Brisbane at the end of 2011, and I had just completed grade 10. At first I didn't want to move: I had good friends, good extra-curricular activities, and even a boy I was interested in. But now, at the beginning of 2014, I can honestly say it was for the best. 

I ended up at a state school, which I hadn't been at for three years. My first few months were awful. No one liked me or my twin and very few people got to know us. Very few people even tried talking to us and honestly, we were both extremely unhappy. This was when I first started keeping goals hidden. Sometimes I'd say to myself; "Ok, you're going to focus on school instead of focusing on people who don't want to know you", and it worked. I spent majority of grade 11 focusing on school by studying and completing assignments. I took six board subjects; Ancient History, Drama, Visual Art, Film & Television and New Media, English and Math A. I was really surprised with myself and my school: I was doing really well in all my subjects and enjoying them, the teachers were incredibly passionate and very willing to help and the school environment was so relaxed. 

Honestly, I didn't know school was allowed to be so relaxed. At my old school socks and skirts had to be certain lengths and drafts were to be handed in on time "...or else!", and at this school, things were so very different. Ok, so some things pissed me off; like what sort of disrespectful teen was allowed to back chat a teacher?! But on the whole, things were going good for my education. I still had no good friends, and I still found being alone extremely difficult, but my education had changed in ways I never thought possible. I wasn't the "average" kid anymore. I was getting Very High Achievements (VHA's) in majority of my subjects and I enjoyed most of them. Math A even grew to be my favourite subject; odd since I used to fail maths at my old school! 

As grade 11 and 2012 came to a close I was secretly very relieved. I'd successfully achieved my own goal and in the final term or school I'd even made a few friends in a few of my classes. I had a boyfriend (a story for another day!), family was going well, and I'd managed to get a job at a fashion boutique in the city. I had one more year of school to complete before being thrown into the deep, dark world of adult hood and university. 

Year 12 and 2013 was both the best and worst year of my life. It was a good year for my education, but bad for family and for my love life and social skills. 

I continued on with my subjects from the previous year and excelled in them. I kept my goal tucked away in the back of my head. This year they were; "I want my year 12 results to be high and I want to finish my schooling career with a single digit OP" (OP's are ranks from 1-25 (1 being the best) and are what Queenslanders use to get accepted in university- it's a shitty system but we're stuck with it). Teachers asked what I wanted from this year and I'd simply say something about being happy with my results. I never went into details. And I'm glad I didn't. I have never studied or put so much into school in my whole life. Instead of going out on weekends or Friday nights I'd stay up working on art projects or essay's and I discovered a passion: writing. Most people hate essays but I grew to love them. I wrote essays for all my classes and looked forward to writing more. I was also part of our school musical and with that, came friends. It was easily an amazing experience and it helped me gain friends that I can't imagine my senior year without. I ended up completing year 12, my final year of school with 5 subjects as VHA's (A's) and one high HA (B). I was over the moon; my ranks in my classes were good and I even topped Math A. I'd successfully completed one part of my goal: finishing school with high results. I just had to wait till mid December before finding out my OP. 

With the OP came the Queensland Core Skills test (QCS), which examines various 'skills' you are supposed to gather throughout your high school experience. The tests were administered in September and it was an extremely stressful time. Not only did your own result go towards your OP, but the entire school's average would either boost your OP or bring you down. This created a lot of tension and September was a very emotional month for most year 12's. We would not find out these results till we completed school in November, and until the results of QCS and our school results were squished together, which meant we had to wait till December. OP's were posted at midnight. I was on the computer at 2am too scared to enter my login. What if I failed? I ended up sitting for some time before entering the system and there were my results; a B on the QCS test, and an OP of 5! I was almost in tears. My top preference at university required an OP of 10, so I was over joyed. I had completed my goal. I had completed my high school experience to the best of my ability and I couldn't be more proud. 

Despite various negative situations throughout 2013 (the passing of my beloved nanna, dealing with teenagers, being bullied, and losing my boy friend of almost two years- again, stories for another day!) I believe 2013 was one of my 'better' years. I successfully went from being a very average, dull, unmotivated student to being motivated and organised. I knew what I wanted to achieve and by keeping my desires to myself they became achievable. It's a process that may not work for everyone, but for me, keeping things to myself really helped. I was no longer hindered by the pressure of my friends or teachers, and I couldn't be happier with my achievements. 
Fingers crossed I get accepted into my top preferences for uni!

The high school experience can change from terrible to good f you keep your head low, goals high, and heart open. It's corny; but it's the truth. 
I have a lot more I'd like to share with you guys about high school, and the things that hindered and benefitted me. Hopefully I'll be able to share them with you as I feel more comfortable posting online. 

Thanks for reading! x
 Words by Tayla Walsh


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I also hate when students talk back to the teacher, our school is so relaxed with stuff like that. Good luck for getting into the uni you want :) I'm doing my final year of high school this year and I definitely need to have some better time management skills.

    1. Thanks Chloe! Good luck for your senior year! xx

  2. Hi Tayla! We don't formally know each other, but I am friends with Maddie online and see her posts about you often! Thank you for sharing such honest reflections about your time in high school. I hope a lot of young girls see your words and are encouraged to find themselves and push aside the noise like you have learned how to do. I was also bullied and unfocused in high school, but switching school districts during grade 11 really helped give me a fresh start. I'm 26 now and still don't have everything together, but I am so encouraged by girls with similar stories and experiences! It's nice to know you're not alone in your struggles. All the best for you at Uni! Wahoo!

    1. Hi Jenny! Maddie tells me about you all the time! Ah, bullying really sucks and I'm sorry you have had to go through that! It's amazing how much difference a new school can do right? It's really great to hear from you, and I thank you for your words of encouragement! When will anyone have 'everything' all together? Thanks so much. Love Tayla xx