We are taught to live our lives as though we are constantly running around one of those 400m athletics running tracks. Everyone in the race is different. Some people are blessed with an inside lane, breezing through without even needing to push themselves into a sprint. Some, however, are less lucky and are doomed to an outer lane with no head start, forever trying to catch up but falling further and further behind in the process. What everyone in the race has in common is that we’re all being forced to compete against one another. From the minute we pop into the world, we’re taught that if we do well in school, we can go to university, get a degree, get a job, get a mortgage, buy a house, work to pay off the mortgage, then finally, after a lifetime of running in a narrow little lane, we can retire and do as we please. Cool!!!
Since I started primary I was always pretty academic I guess, I usually got the gist of things pretty quickly and I haven’t really had to stress too hard about getting the marks I wanted ((I’ll talk more about what I think of exams soon)). I guess I’m pretty grateful for that, but what I’m not grateful for is the box you’re shoved into because of it. Going into high school I kind of felt like my life was laid out for me. If you’re considered academic your usually supposed to find your specialty which’ll then lead to your expected career path. Get good grades in science? Ok, well you are going to study Medicine. Maths? Engineering. English and Social Sciences? Law. Statistics, Economics, Accounting? Business. Those are the areas with the money so therefore those are the areas you will study.
From primary up until Year 11 I had actually been pretty good at Math (bet a lot of of y’all didn’t know thisssss). Because of this it was expected that I was going to go off earning heaps of money as an engineer. I hated this. I couldn’t think of anything worse than seeing these people in twenty years and knowing they successfully predicted my future. So, me being the oppositional little bitch I was, decided that I didn’t wan’t to be an Engineer; that I hated Math, hated Science, and that I was good at English and Social Sciences, despite these being the areas where I had always been streamed very averagely and where my marks were probably weakest. Suddenly I found the written subjects really interesting and began to lose interest in the areas in which I had once thrived. If you have ever heard of the Law of Attraction, search that shit up because this is evidence that it works.
So fast forward two years down the track. When I finish the year I will have English, Statistics, four different Social Sciences, and Woodwork at Level 3. This is the opposite to what 13 year old me saw myself finishing school with. But don’t get me wrong, I haven’t tricked my mind into liking these subjects. Deep down I must have always enjoyed them -but I had been told so many times that numbers were my thing that I never ever knew that words could be too.
Right now you’re probably thinking ummm give a fuck about that dumb ass story. But hear me out haha.
So something I hate about our school system is that from the age of five we are put into categories depending on how well we can sit a test. I think exams are stupid. For one, we are expected to sit in a seat for three hours, which some can find more difficult than others – something that literally has nothing to do with the person’s intelligence at all. Also, last year I went into my English exam knowing nothing about Frankenstein except bits from the internet I had pieced together into an essay. I only read the first quarter of the book and my knowledge didn’t extend past three of the minor female characters. Despite this, I came out with a completely undeserved excellence. That exam was a memory test, not an intelligence test. Which in my opinion in completely unfair and shows that this stupid, small-minded system will only ever benefit some people. Yet, our intelligence is so quick to be judged on school results.
When I decided I was going to hate Math, I tested waters that I had been too close minded to test before, and found topics I was actually passionate about, not just something like equations that I could learn and then recite onto a piece of paper. There is a difference between being naturally good at something and being genuinely interested in it. Schools usually expect you to stick with the former rather than the latter because that’s what’ll get you the good marks and that’s what will determine your future. But will it seriously determine your future? I feel like thats a yarn and a half. Firstly, you don’t need good high school results to be successful lol, and secondly, it’s kind of stupid that we see our ‘future’ as how successful we are in terms of money. “Will I own a house???” “Will I have a decent job??” We’ve been manufactured to believe that a successful future is one with money, because then we will be happy. Why aren’t we taught that doing what you love is whats going to determine your future? Probably because then we wouldn’t be jumping at the spit to hop on the corporate ladder and help make the rich richer haha.
One time I was doing a BuzzFeed quiz (probably determining my eye colour or some shizz) and it asked whether I thought money buys happiness. Channelling my inner inspo, thinking I was being all moral and socially aware, I answered no. But when they asked me if I wanted to be rich I answered yes. I didn’t even realise at the time but I had answered differently to what was theoretical the same question. It’s a bummer how much our society has grown to rely on and compete for money, but whats more of a bummer if that it’s so core to our behaviour that we dont even realise we do it.
For example, do you actually want to study Medicine because you want become a surgeon and save lives, or do you just want to study Medicine because you do alright in Science and you want to be rich? If you actually full on internalise this and realise you truly want to become a surgeon, or a doctor or whatever, then thats sick! But if you realise it’s the latter, then whats the point? What’s the point of putting yourself through years of stress and debt just to end up with money you don’t even enjoy earning. Being Year 13 this year is pretty annoying because we have to make life changing decisions and it’s hard to chose between what you actually want to do and what your parents/teachers think you should be doing. Like do they know best because they are experienced, or do I know best because I know myself better than anyone?? At the moment I feel like my heart is clashing with my head, it’s all getting pretty confusing and I know so many people are in the same boat.
We’ve been born into a system, we’re expected to keep running in our lane until our 400m is up. Although I have an idea about what I want to do, something inside of me just wants to break out of the narrow lane I have been running in for the past 13 years. The system is so fucking boring. I need to jump into another lane for a while, sit down for a sec and catch my breath, run the track backwards or fucking get off that track and do some field events. Who cares – because I could just find what I’m looking for.