Back to School

Daily Post Prompt: If you could take a break from your life and go back to school to master a subject, what would it be?

While I think my answer to this should really be maths, because I was terrible at it then and am still pretty bad at it now, I’m instead going to go with psychology.  Mostly because it’s been in the back of my mind for years that I wouldn’t mind studying that, but I don’t know if I’ll like it.  Had I done it at school, I’d know one way or the other.  I feel like I’d find it really interesting, but I just can’t commit to a whole course on it if I don’t know for sure.  Plus, if I had of done it in school instead of music, I probably would have gotten a better overall mark at the end of it all!

Do you wish you’d done something different in school?

– JD

Revisiting My MySpace Blogs – “I Admit: I Don’t Know” (Posted 2006)

So, like I mentioned briefly last night, I finally got ahold of all my old MySpace blogs.  Some of the stuff I posted is highly embarrassing and I wish someone would have given me a swift kick in the pants for writing it, but other stuff is actually really  nice to look back on.  The one I’m going to share today both resonated and amused me when I read it.  I’ve cut out the irrelevant first half (it was a really long blog!) and just left in the bit that I wanted to address.  This was written towards of year 10, back when I’d only recently turned 16 and was heading into my big final two years of school the following year.  (I decided to leave all the terrible grammar and spelling in to keep in authentic…apparently capital letters weren’t cool back then).

I Admit: I Don’t Know (Posted : 2006-08-02)

the time had to come of coarse. there was no denying that. it’s the time where we have to choose subjects for our final two years of school, and with that, a career path. and i hate it. i was never the kid to think “i’m gonna be a firefighter” or whatever. well, not for more then a few days anyway. and although the thought had crossed my mind once or twice, i never really thought about it, just chucked it on the too hard pile for another day. and now the time has come where there really isn’t any time left for thinking…well, there IS of coarse, but you had to at least have a loose idea. and i sort of do. but i just can’t see myself staying with one job. and that isn’t a good thing. if you jump careers all the time, it’s not going to be a steady income. and i’m not a moron. i know how important that is. damn, just covering the cost of petrol is more then enough reason to just decide on a proffesion and stick with it. and i’ve narrowed it down to two fields – music or computers. i know, big shock huh? lol. not really. music, well, i’d LOVE to be in a band, but i can’t sing, and am only just moving into a sort-of-okay guitarist. i’m not brilliant, but i definately have stepped up quite a bit since i started. gimme two years i think, and then maybe i’ll be ready. but nah, even if i was in a band, that’d be gigging at nights, and it wouldn’t be an income. i know that. so i was thinking maybe a sound technician. or if it was computers, it would either be something to do with the internet like a webmaster/designer, or like a computer programmer. had a “taster” at the local nmit tafe two days ago, and it was on the visual design coarses. that isn’t for me. i know that. but there was a Q-and-A after lunch, and one of the students they got to talk was studying music, and they’ve just brought in a diploma in it, and the guy talking was in the band we saw afterwards. and it made me want to do that, but at the same time think that i’d complete it and then go “nah, i’m over this” and do computers. ohhh i’m so confused. that’s another reason why i was probably crabby. i don’t know. and that’s the extent of it, of all of this i suppose, I DON’T KNOW. i’m only sixteen! twenty-year-olds don’t know what they want half the time. i can’t vote. i can’t drive without someone next to me. i can’t smoke (not that i would). i can’t drink. so why in the hell am i am even thinking about a career path? i’m not saying that i should be treated like a four year old, coz i’m not. i want to be part of the adult world. but at the same time, you can’t expect us to know when we’re sixteen. not properly. well, not me anyway. i just know that i’ll choose something now and in six months time go “what was i thinking?”. and by then it’s too late. urgh i just want someone to tell me what i want. it’s draining and stressful and confusing. but i’m not complaining. well, no more then anyone else.

I really liked this post in particular as I still completely agree with what I wrote, which is unusual considering I’m now well and truely on the other side of the fence.  A majority of the stuff I wrote/complained/whined about back then I now understand better and therefore, don’t really agree with any more, but this post is still so true!

I can’t believe schools expect kids to know what they want to do at such a young age.  As I addressed in the post, kids that age have no legal rights whatsoever, and yet they’re expected to know what they want to do as a career for potentially their whole life?  I mean, I understand that choosing the wrong subjects isn’t the end of a particular career path should you decide later on, but between the ages of 18-21, further education places do check what subjects were taken and the results, and if something wasn’t taken you’d have to jump through some big (often time consuming) hoops.  That’s a lot of pressure to put onto people that young!  Especially when on top of that, the teachers are all crying “Year 11 and 12 are the hardest years of your lives, you have to study, you have to get good grades, you need a good final score or you won’t get into further education and you won’t have a good job!”.  Essentially, if you don’t do well, you’re life is over.  Looking at it from the other side, it’s 100% a dirty, dirty lie.  Let’s not even get into what schools consider “careers” – if it doesn’t have a fancy title or a 4-year coarse behind it, it isn’t one.

I was lucky.  Little did I know when I posted that blog, that halfway through Year 12 I’d get accepted into film school and it would make my end of year results irrelevant.  Little did I know at that time that film school (although fun) would take me absolutely nowhere and I’d be forging a career in telco.  This is exactly what I mean by putting so much pressure on young people though.  In that post, I’m frantically trying to pick a job out of thin air that I know very little about.  I landed on a sound technician (which I’ll bet is generally a super boring job aside from the occasional live-show gigs) or a computer technician (ha, with my maths skills?  I don’t think so).  It wasn’t until partway through year 12 I decided to pursue film, and honestly, even that was on a bit of a whim.

You have to do something.

That’s the mentality of the final years of high school.  As you’re finishing your education, it’s like a rite of passage that you go to uni.  I mean, sure, you can take a gap year if you need some time away from study, but even then the idea of that is you’ll go right back to uni after you’ve had your fun.  Not once did anyone ever say “keep working in retail until you know what you want, it’s okay”.  I wish someone would have though.  Maybe I wouldn’t have wasted my parents money doing a coarse I’ll never use.  Maybe I’d like retail.  Granted, the pay isn’t fantastic, but it’s still a career path.  You can still work your way up like any job.  And if you’ve done retail for awhile and then finally work out what you want to do with your life, what have you wasted?  Only a little bit of time, but chances are if you hadn’t given yourself that, you’d probably be studying something completely different.  What’s a year or two in a shitty job if it means you’ll make the right choice longterm?  This is what schools should be saying.  They won’t though, because I’m sure it makes them look fantastic if they can say “two-thirds of our year level went on to do further studies”.  They’ll never follow up to see how many of those same students wound up working in the field they studied in (or even how many finished the coarse in the first place).

This is where the education system fails people.  It’s all a big competition.  Instead of making it about the students, it’s about the results.  All that means is students are worked too hard to get grades they may never even need, to be brainwashed into thinking they absolutely have to do further studies.  It results in depression, anxiety, kids dropping out of school early or, worse, suicide.  Over what?  A stupid coarse that’s make-or-break over a stupid final mark?

Fuck that shit.

Especially because after 21, that mark becomes absolutely irrelevant.  You’re classified as a mature-aged student and you have free choice of almost any coarse you like.  Let me restate that again for you: kids are literally killing themselves trying to get into a coarse at age 18 they could breeze into at age 21.  All because the schools are acting like it’s the most important thing in the world.

To anyone still in school reading this, please don’t get caught up in all this bullshit.  You’re so young.  Enjoy it.  Don’t let anyone convince you that your final marks are the be-all-and-end-all.  Please don’t think you need to have a life plan now.  Things will change, people will come and go from your life, your attitudes and ideas and mindsets will shift.  You have no idea what lies ahead, and making a life plan before you’re out of teenage-hood is absolutely crazy and a waste of precious time.   Don’t get me wrong, if you have an idea, go for it.  Ultimately, a couple of years spent in retail, or on a coarse that doesn’t help you, is nothing.  Stressing about it all is something though – it’s bad for your health and you’re too young for that.  You’ll have so many reasons to stress later in life, don’t let it get to you now!  Go out, be crazy and take heaps and heaps of photos.  You’ll never be this young and free again!

What are your thoughts?  Did you wind up doing the job you thought you would at age 16?

-JD

My First Crush

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First Crush.”
Who was your first childhood crush? What would you say to that person if you saw him/her again?

My first crush happened when I was eleven, on a boy a year and two foot taller than me.  We met on the first day of my-grade-five-his-grade-six year (we were in a composite class).  At first, he just came off as weird, and was one of those guys that everyone got on with, but not many would actually go so far as to call him a friend.

Over the next couple of months we got to know each other better.  He was so funny.  Like, he could turn any situation into something worth laughing about.  He had the class in stitches at least once a day.  He was good to talk to, and would actually listen.  That’s no small fete for a twelve year old.

Throughout the course of the year we kept getting closer, until I was choosing to hang out with him at lunch over my other friends.  People started commenting, saying we were dating – a big, strange concept at that age.  I didn’t really understand it, and I don’t think he did either, but I’m sure if this had of happened a few years later, we would have wound up together.  Instead, we just kept up this awkward I-like-you-you-like-me friendship.

Then suddenly, it was over.  School finished for the year, he went off to high school and we lost contact.  This was about two or three years before MSN and MySpace really took off, and back then none of us had mobile phones.  It was pretty much the end when you went to different schools, unless you called their home phone…and that wasn’t going to happen.

While I wasn’t in love with him, it was still my first taste of heartbreak.  I missed him terribly that summer.  Eventually, I got on with things, as we all do.  I finished primary school and headed off to high school…the same one he went to.  By then, over a year had passed since we’d seen each other, and that’s a long time when you’re young.

About a month or so into my first year at high school, as I was standing around waiting to go into class, he comes up to me out of the blue, a big goofy smile on his face.  “Remember me?” he asks.  I nod and say of course.  We didn’t really have anything to talk about as so much seemed to have changed, and we didn’t try to talk again after that.  Kind of sad how time changes everything, isn’t it?

If I spoke to him today, I’m not sure what I’d say.  I suppose I should ask him if he wanted to get a drink, catch up, see how things went…you know, see if the connection is still there somewhere.  Whether I would actually do that, though, I don’t know.  Some things are best left in the past.

Excruciatingly Embarrassing

My most embarrassing moment was a few months after I turned 18, halfway through my last year of school.  I did a lot of dumb things back then – as we all did.  One of the more stupid things I decided to do was try to take units 3 & 4 in Music, after only starting to learn guitar a couple of years before and not being very good…mostly because I hated practicing.  I didn’t take any music units at school prior to deciding to do it in my final year (well, not since the mandatory lessons back in Year 8, which was a long time before).  I’d been taking guitar lessons for a couple of years, and that had given me an unhealthy confidence that I could take on the challenge.  The music teachers didn’t think it was a good idea either, warning me it’d be very difficult, but like the naive teenager I was, I did it anyway.  How hard could it be, right?

It it hard.
Really, really hard.

First off, because I’d been taught guitar in tabs, not sheet music.  Music class was all about sheet music and the theory behind it.  Add to that, musical theory and maths go hand in hand, and I’ve always been terrible at maths, to the point I wasn’t even doing it in my final year.  Still, I scraped through class by class, barely passing but not failing either.

Now, you’d think this would force me to take things more seriously and focus on it more.  You’d think I’d get my gameface on and try.  After all, I’d been the one to defy what the teachers had told me to do it anyway.  Instead, I didn’t take it seriously at all.  I guess in my defence, I’d already done two final-year classes the year before, so I knew if I really bombed in Music, then I had those results to fall back on (at the time, only the top five results counted towards your overall mark so the worst two classes for me would drop off and not count).  Also, about halfway through my final year I was accepted into film school, which in turn led me to be even more relaxed about school and my final marks.

Anyway, aside from theory, there were also practical exams for music.  Like I said, I’d only been playing guitar for a couple of years and I wasn’t great.  I wasn’t awful either, but I certainly wasn’t anywhere near the standard I should have been to be taking the class (I know that now!).  As part of the lead up to our exams, the teacher decided it’d be good practice to have a performance night in the school hall, where parents and friends could come and watch how everyone was going.

Again, you’d think that’d make me knuckle down a little.  I mean, it’s a freaking performance in front of people other than peers.  Instead, the date kept creeping closer and closer, and I’d practice in class and at my music lessons.  Even though I wasn’t nailing it, I thought “it’ll be fine”.  Having never had to play an instrument in front of anyone, I didn’t really get it.  I just assumed it’d somehow – magically – come together.

So, the night came.  I went out on stage with the other people I was performing with.  The hall was maybe half-full, so it wasn’t a huge crowd, but it seemed pretty big from where I was standing.  The music started, and I froze up.  I missed where I was supposed to come in.  Then I tried to overcome that by joining in, and missing the timing, then having to stop and start again.  Then, stressing more, I started to forget the notes.  The longer it went on, the worse my performance was, until by the end I’d basically stopped playing so I wasn’t ruining it for the others on stage.

I’d never been so humiliated in my life, and I knew I had nobody to blame but myself.  I hadn’t put any serious practice in and this was what I deserved.  I’d been lazy, overconfident, naive, dumb.  My face was burning as I left the stage.  I collected my stuff as quickly as possible (which isn’t that quick when you’re lugging a guitar around), expecting people to pay me out.  Nobody said anything, which I guess was the best I could of hoped for.  I got out of there quick smart, and was thoroughly embarrassed for about a week.

At least one good thing came out of it.  By the time my real practical exam rolled around, I’d practiced so much I could almost play it with my eyes closed.  I wasn’t going to so stupid again.  I knew it wasn’t just going to come together, it took real work.  I still didn’t get great marks in the class overall, but at least I didn’t totally stuff up the practical exam.  Phew!

This was inspired by the prompt ‘your most excruciatingly embarrassing moment. We’ve all got one.’ which can be found here.

#loveme challenge – Day Five

img_0546

Day Five – “A Note to Your Past Self”.

Hmmm.  This is vague.  Interesting, but vague.  Who do I write to?  My five-year-old self that was obsessed with Barbies and the colour orange?  My nine-year-old self who was absolutely convinced she’d become an artist when she grew up?  My twelve-year-old self, in the cusp of puberty and extremely embarrassed by it all?  So many options.

Dear my sixteen-year-old self.
Hi.  I know it’s hard to believe I’m writing to you from the future.  I’m 25 now.  Seems crazy right?  25, the time you assumed that you’d have it all together.  Well, unfortunately you don’t.  No partner, no job, renting (don’t be mad, I know you swore you’d never get stuck the rent trap but you also know how badly you needed to move out of the parentals place.  Trust me, this isn’t so bad), still not sure what you want to do with your life.  But you know what?  A lot of 25-year-olds are in the same situation.  It’s scary, but it’s not so bad.  I know to you, 25 seems so far away, but it isn’t.  It’ll come faster than you think.
I know right now you’re going through some stuff.  You feel alone.  You aren’t.  Sixteen is a tough year for most people.  Don’t let it get you down.  Enjoy yourself.  I know the teachers at school are all about you “knuckling down” and suggesting you “think about your future”.  I know the tests are getting harder, the lessons are getting more serious.  Don’t worry about it.  Just do your best, but don’t let it wear you down.  There’s more important things than the result of some quiz.  Go out more with your friends.  Spend more time with your dogs.  Buy stupid things.  Quit that awful job.  Don’t let yourself get stressed out and depressed.  Everything will work out.
That boy you think you’re in love with…let him go.  He’s not right for you and not interested in you.  You pretending to enjoy sport isn’t going to get you anywhere.  Don’t let him hurt you, you’re worth more than that.  It’s okay to be alone, even if the whole world seems to believe otherwise.
It’s okay to be emo.  It’s okay to enjoy it.  If it makes you happy, just do it.  It won’t last forever.  At 25, you can’t do stuff like that any more.  Enjoy these phases while you can, it’ll make for more interesting stories later on.
Don’t listen to your mum or anyone else who says you’re fat.  You aren’t.  You may not be the skinniest person in your year level but you are not overweight.  Don’t throw in the towel and think it’s okay to eat bad food all the time.  It will catch up with you!
The most important piece of advise I’ve got – more important than anything else I’ve mentioned – is to be yourself.  I know at 16, it’s all about peer pressure and fitting in, but almost all the people you associate with now, you won’t remain friends with in a few years.  Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.  People grow up, go separate ways, don’t have time to organise catch ups.  Don’t worry what they think.  Don’t pretend you enjoy things that you don’t, don’t spend time with people you dislike.  It’s okay to go against the crowd sometimes, but it’s also perfectly fine to go with it (which I know you struggle with).  Sometimes, the crowd is right.  You don’t have to constantly be at war with “the man”.  Pick your fights.
Anyway, hope school isn’t too tough for you today!  Chin up soldier!

-JD

Harry Potter and the Muggle who Refused to Buy Into It (and Why She Regrets It)

So, Harry Potter has been famous for what feels like forever.  I remember vividly when I was first introduced to it, a few years prior to it becoming famous.  I was in primary school, maybe Grade 4.  We had one of those Book Fairs happening, and mum agreed to let me buy one book.  Do schools still do Book Fairs?  They should.  They were awesome.  Though I guess we didn’t have iPads back then, so maybe they aren’t cool any more.  Whatever, it was after school and I was in the library, looking at all the newly-erected temporary book stands filled with the latest children’s book titles.  One of the covers caught my eye, one with a blue flying car and two kids hanging out the window.  The librarian, Mrs Bourke, came over and said that she’d recommend the series, but that I was holding the second book and should probably start with the first.  In this case, I literally judged the book by it’s cover and decided against her suggestion, intrigued more by the flying car than the train.

I got home and started to read it.  Big surprise though, I couldn’t follow what was going on.  I tried multiple times over the next year to get into it, but would inevitably give up after the first few chapters.

The book sat on my shelf for two years.  Then – out of nowhere – everyone was talking about the series.  Literally overnight, it went from nobody talking about books to it being the latest thing.  I didn’t get it.  I couldn’t understand why everyone liked it.  I couldn’t get into it at all, and at that stage, I was an avid reader.  I’d demolish book after book.  It wasn’t like me to give up on them.  So I was really confused about the whole overnight phenomenon.

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but within the next couple of months, I managed to get my hands on the first book that I’d turned my nose up at years before.  I started to read it, and suddenly everything made sense.  I read the first and second book within a couple of weeks.  I really liked it, and was glad I could finally enjoy the book that I’d attempted so many times.

It took awhile for me to get my hands on the third book as there was a giant waiting list at the library for it (it’s hard to believe that was even a thing, much less that it seemed perfectly normal at the time!).  I think I was at least halfway through grade 6 before I read it, and again, really liked it.  I remember that, even at that young age, I was perplexed that the hype for the series was still going strong.  I assumed (incorrectly) that it would fizzle out like most things did.  Every kid who enjoyed reading (which was a lot back then) was hanging out for the next installment.

The next book came out and by then, my sister had also gotten into the series so mum decided it was okay to buy it instead of waiting a ridiculously long time for a copy to free up at the library.  Despite being the longest book of the series (and the longest book I’d ever read at the time) I chewed through it.

As this book was coming out, so too was the movie.  The hype for the series grew exponentially, which seemed unfathomable as it was already so high as it was.  I didn’t see the film in the cinema, but my sister bought the VHS when it came out and I watched it there.  I was disappointed – I wasn’t used to seeing films based off books and I felt it was missing a lot.  I was young and couldn’t comprehend the reasons why they’d leave stuff out.

As the second film was about to come out a year or so later, the hype became overwhelming.  You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing posters or merchandise or people talking excitedly about it.  People on the TV and radio would talk about it, kids at school couldn’t stop guessing what it would be like.

That’s when I decided I’d had enough.

This was my very first taste of going against the crowd.  I was sick of hearing about the boy wizard, sick of seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s face everywhere and mostly, sick of people expecting me to be obsessed with it.  Granted, I did enjoy the books that I’d read, and the movie wasn’t bad (if lacking), but I felt like I had to fight the world.  Part of me was a little sad, but I refused to acknowledge it.  I didn’t want to be like everybody else.

My sister didn’t share my views, and ate up all the HP goodness she could.  She’d buy the books as they came out, see the newest movies in the cinema, even write fanfiction in her free time.  We were polar opposites (which is hardly anything new).

I fought the fight for over a decade.  I didn’t read any more of the books, didn’t see any more of the movies, refused to partake in discussions about any of it.  I told people I didn’t like the series, when actually it was the hype I didn’t like.  The more films that came out, the bigger the hype.  When the last book came out, I still remember the news reports with kids who lined up for hours to get their copy.  When they got it they hugged it and bawled their eyes out.  They’d stay up all night reading it to try to be the first in the world to finish it.  I watched the report, rolling my eyes and scoffing.  What was wrong with these kids?  It’s just a book.

Last month, I decided after all these years, to listen to that sad little voice that had been within me this whole time, who kept saying “you’re allowed to like the series along with everyone else!  Please don’t stop reading!  You want to know what happens!”.  I read the books as avidly as I had the first time.  It had been so long since I’d read them that a lot of the stuff that happened was actually surprising, which was pretty cool.  It was like I got a second chance to read it for the first time.  I managed to read all 7 books within a month, and it was only then, as I finished the last one, that I wish I’d read it along with the rest of the world.  Suddenly, I understood the hysteria.  I was sad – really, really sad – that I’d come to the end of Harry’s story.  I completely understood why people wrote fanfiction, why others were obsessed with the Pottermore site, why people would hold Harry Potter themed parties.  The series was magical, in every sense of the world.  Reading it so late, though, meant I’d missed my chance to talk to others about it.  The hysteria finally subsided, and I wasn’t going to be the one to desperately try to bring it back.

All I could do to try to keep the series going was watch all the movies, and I enjoyed them (moreso than I had when I was 12) but it wasn’t the same.  I expected them to leave a lot out and change things, which they did, and I just couldn’t get the same feeling back I’d had while reading the books.  I had to accept it, I’d have to move on with my life.  It seriously felt like a weird kind of mourning.  Partly it was a mourning because I could never read the books again not knowing what was coming next…and partly because I’d missed out on going through the excitement when I was younger.  That ship had sailed and there was nothing I could do to bring either thing back.

I’d finally learnt a valuable lesson, a decade too late – always be yourself and don’t let anyone influence your decisions.  If I hadn’t let the hype get to me, and if I had of listened to that little voice, I’d have enjoyed the ride with everyone else.  Instead, I’m left to enjoy it alone…and that’s no fun!  Better late than never though, I suppose.

-JD