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Guides / life beyond hsc

Surviving Year 12: Finding Happiness in the HSC Year

Happiness comes entirely from perspective and not from any one thing...

Freya Osterberg Head of Product & Head of English

Question: How do I find happiness with myself? I feel lost and confused as every day I work my ass off studying and revising, only to get a mediocre mark. Idk if the HSC is worth all the pain and suffering, why is my social status and happiness dependent on the marks I get? How do I deal with all the emotions and stress? 🙌 TL;DR

  • Happiness comes entirely from perspective and not from any one thing. Once you learn to love who you are and what you do, that’s when you become happy.
  • HSC is definitely worth it, because so much more comes out of it than a single ATAR.
  • Your social status and happiness is never only dependent on marks, it just feels like it, but it’s a very manageable feeling once you’re aware of it.
  • The biggest thing is to talk about it and express yourself to someone who’s willing to help, it all becomes easier once it’s not bouncing around in your head. ‍

🧠 How to Change Your Mindset

The first step to happiness is acknowledging that feeling lost and confused is absolutely okay. Life is tough, and no one expects you to have all the answers - especially not when you’re so young. Happiness is a bit elusive that way - it feels like something we’re always working towards, but not necessarily getting. That’s because the journey, and everything we do to try MAKE us happy — that’s where we actually find the happiness.

💆 Actively forgive yourself for what you’ve done in the past.

This can be mistakes on an exam, really cringe/ awkward behaviour, missing opportunities (like putting money in Bitcoin years ago, just kidding), etc. Become okay with the idea that you can’t do anything about it now because time has passed. If something is cringe, that’s a really good sign because it shows you’ve developed and matured. New opportunities will come again. Everything’s gonna look bad in hindsight, so why bother dwelling on it?

💕 Love yourself for who you are today.

Got out of bed? that’s a win. Brushed your teeth? Killing it. Didn’t make your bed? That’s fine, you can try again tomorrow. Slept in? You must have needed the rest. Spent two hours on Youtube instead of revising? Ok you’re a little off track but you know how to fix this and find balance again.

🔮 Be excited for who you can be tomorrow.

Every moment is a new opportunity, and everyday brings with it fresh energy that you can put towards things that actively make you happy. If you’re studying and a little down - make time for a really long walk where you can listen to music, phone a friend, or even just clear your own head. If you don’t have time today, nothing is lost, no harm done, you haven’t failed, you’ve just given yourself a well-needed break, and you now have the benefit of foresight to plan around the walk or the phone call or whatever it is.

🌄 You get up each day and work with purpose.

You said it yourself, you’re working your ASS off to study, revise etc. Yeah sure, the marks are mediocre, that happens. We don’t all test well, and in many areas of life, our efforts don’t translate really nicely and neatly into results. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.

💪 Think about all the other things you’re gaining from HSC journey

  • You’re establishing an INCREDIBLE work ethic. Devoting yourself to a long term task to produce results and not giving up no matter how upsetting it all is? That’s invaluable.
  • You’re gaining KNOWLEDGE! Every subject you do is teaching you something and studying so hard will mean that it’ll stay with you for LIFE. I still use things from HSC that I remember offhandedly reading in a textbook, and it’s made me such a well-rounded, well-read and interesting person.
  • It’s also making you incredibly emotionally mature. The ability to balance life, family, friends, work, study etc is something that some people never grasp. But you’re out here getting that balance and those skills at what, 17? You are so incredibly gifted, and so driven that even if you feel lost and confused you are STILL working hard, and STILL trying. Those qualities will make you such a wonderful person.
  • That’s something to focus on because yes, you graduate with an ATAR, and with ranks, and a school assessment mark and an HSC mark, but even if you graduated with none of those things, you would still be a PERSON. And the PERSON you are? That’s what the HSC is building. A strong, resilient, capable and extremely intelligent person. ‍

🧐 So, is the HSC worth it?

Well yes and no. The HSC is not worth crying and screaming over, but I can only say that in hindsight. When I was in the middle of it all, you bet your ass that I was crying and screaming as much as the next person. I was so caught up in the mess of it all that I too thought it was just pure pain and suffering.

But the HSC is worth the effort. Trust me. You will look back on these years and sure, you might regret some things, wish you did some things differently, but above everything you will see that in some way, all of this effort will pay off. It always does. Just maybe not in the ways we expect it. ‍

🥰 Remember How Supported You Are 

During the HSC, everyone around you talks about marks, and ranks, and results, and averages and that will make it seem like your happiness and social status is dependent on marks. It’s not. I guarantee you, within a week of finishing your HSC, you’ve forgotten what questions you may have messed up. Within a fortnight, you can’t even remember the essay questions. In a month you won’t even remember your ranks. And by the time your ATAR comes out, it doesn’t matter what the number says because you’re too busy looking for the email from your university that says CONGRATULATIONS. First day of uni and you won’t even remember your ATAR. You will be so overwhelmingly happy that you made it and that you can move on. Your social status is a blank slate for you to fill in as you meet people and cement your new friendship circle. Marks will fade away and become a memory. and even that’s a memory that you can choose to forget. ‍

😥 How do you deal with emotions and stress?

This is a hard one. I’m still figuring it out myself. I can write this really lovely post for you and encourage you to seek perspective, but I’m certainly not immune from stress or being emotional.

I think the first thing as I mentioned above is talking about it. When it’s all in your head, bouncing around day in and day out, it feels never ending and impossible to deal with. The moment you reach out to someone - so many things become clear. You aren’t as lost as you think you are. You are way more intuitive and non-confused than you think. You can be really happy. and you are not alone in any of this. I really encourage you to reach out to anyone in your support network, family, friends, teachers, and a GP if you feel like your health is affected. If that’s too overwhelming, too intimidating, then you can start by reaching out to one of us. You already did the hardest part and put yourself out there with this question.

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Guides / life beyond hsc

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Maximise Your Chances Of Coming First At School

Trial any Project Academy course for 3 weeks.

NSW's Top 1% Tutors

Unlimited Tutorials

NSW's Most Effective Courses

Access to Project's iPad

Access to Exclusive Resources

Access to Project's Study Space