The writer is someone who has just entered the realms of adulthood.
In teenagehood, we learn a lot of things that we are not. We learn that the world is complex and full of limitations as to what we want to do. We learn that the world is not our oyster. We learn that school is just a word, and not a grand idea that seeks to impart knowledge to humankind.
At this age, it is easy to feel trapped.
We move on from task to task, assignment to assignment, and we chase grades – even in our free time. Sometimes, it is difficult to see what lies beyond all this – who are we really pleasing anyway? Are we really going to be happy, with all these blank accolades? Do they mean anything in the grand scheme of life?
Sometimes, we look back on our childhood days. And we wonder - what happened to that wide-eyed exhilaration, when the world seemed to offer to us nothing but beauty and excitement?
Somewhere along the way, we have become jaded. Nothing really seems to be done for fun anymore. It almost seems like our midlife crisis has arrived – just a tad bit too early.
But is all hope really lost? Are we doomed to spend the rest of our lives dejected, without any hope of gaining back that bright-eyed optimism again? Can anybody save us from such a fate?
The answer is yes. It lies in ourselves.
What we choose on a daily basis affects our whole attitude towards life. Sure, at this age, grades are undeniably important, but it does not define our whole life.
After A levels, it is easy to feel as if life will end there, but it is really when a life truly begins. We may feel that everything we do in life is geared to getting us a good job and a respectable income, but in reality, life is so much more than that.
Each one of us is different, and our lives will open up in so many different ways. Our interests, our experiences, these are the things that make us unique. And in search of these experiences, do not let yourself be fooled into sacrificing your life in the pursuit of grades. There is a wealth of knowledge and adventure ahead of you.
Life is about learning new things constantly and growing every day in every way possible – learn a new language, play a sport, study an instrument in depth, go out and travel and open your eyes to the people around you. That is the real learning that you have to do.
Do not put off any of that in exchange for your grades. In fact, what you study in school is the means for you to be exposed to all that. Treasure your CCAs and read extensively and expand yourself outside of school work. Seize every opportunity that comes in school and outside of school.
As John Green puts it beautifully in his Ted Talk, learning never stopped for him. Some people learn best in the classroom and some people don’t. He feels what is important is in finding the right environment and the right people for yourself so that your life is filled with enjoyment and exploration. For him, online learning was the means to do so, even after he moved on into adulthood.
So find your platforms, just like him. Because at the end of the day, you just got to remember this: you are more than a piece of paper. You are the tree that never stops growing. The world can be our oyster, as much as we want it to be.