There comes a time in our lives when we ditch the school bell and the mandatory classes and think, thank God, high school is finally over. However, once we step into the big wide world, wether that be for higher education or a corporate job behind a desk, I wonder does high school ever really end?
Most recently I re-entered the world of work, I suffered the mandatory month of unemployment whereby nothing I did had any benefit to my life; I interviewed for multiple positions then finally I got a job. I received the call on a Thursday afternoon and by the Monday I had rejoined the work force. As Monday loomed and I prepared myself for a full day of personal questions and introductions I couldn’t help but feel like I was re-joining school.
How many times a day do you complete a task and thank Pythagoras for his theorem? How many times a day do you focus on the qualities of a solid or a liquid and question how tightly packed the particles are? Is the mitochondria really the powerhouse of the cell? The answer probably isn’t as much as you’d hoped in the adult world. This is all academic, however, high school taught us all more than we could have ever imagined.
The answer, one I’m sure you’re all familiar with, is no. A band in the late 90’s immortalised this well known fact in a song aptly named “high school never ends” and they were right. Forget for a second that you were forced into double science or an hour of economics a week, forget that perhaps you didn’t learn anything being forced to endure two hours of P.E a week, high school taught you everything you need to know because it never truly ends.
Being the ‘new kid’ is never fun. The minute you stand in a room full of people who have already established themselves in the community and declare that you are knew and that you’ll be joining their team is the moment you admit you have no idea what you’re doing.
When you enter the world of work you soon realise that you’ve still got a teacher. Someone that knows more than you and will spend five weeks teaching you everything you need to know to do your job. As you sit in the board room every feeling you ever had of being at school will rush back and you’ll feel fifteen again. This time they’ll ask you to introduce yourself with an important fact; you may still freeze and forget yourself as you did in high school. As you sit there and listen to everyone else you will subconsciously make judgements and Immediately decide who you’ll make friends with.
Very quickly a chain of command begins to form, people above you or even people below your role that form a working day. As this happens you sit and question yourself; “do i belong here?”
“Does the senior manager like me?”
“Will I fit in with this team?’
It brings you back to being the ‘new kid’ at school. As you introduce yourself there are plenty of factors that could make your team not accept you. You’re selling yourself to the popular kids all over again: you’re avoiding having a ‘mean girls’ moment and eating your lunch in a rest room.
Without us even realising it, high school allowed us to navigate social situations with people we couldn’t stand. At the age of sixteen we are conditioned to have our petty personal grievances hold higher consequences. Pick your battles, know when it’s right to fight and when it’s right to go to bed. In the world of work there will always be someone you don’t agree with. The skill comes from knowing when to speak up or allow the foolishness to happen. You move your way through the day and suddenly realise that everyone has formed a pack; like wild animals at the watering hole. The pack is what divides you and your group of friends from the rest.
Detention’ seems like a foreign concept passed the age of eighteen however it teaches us that if you don’t complete what is expected of you then you need to take the time to amend it.
Regardless of wether you’re sat in the training room or your own office; rumours are still currency. The person who knows the most owns the most, wether you buy into the culture or not, he who screams the loudest shall always get what he wants: basically if you’re willing to tantrum like a school child you’ll get treated as such. Graduation will not change this.
With all this in mind, I have this to say:
Dear high school,
Thank you for teaching me resilience. Thank you for teaching me that certain friendships were not meant to last and that people we knew when we were fifteen are different people now and that it’s all apart of growing up. Thank you for teaching me that the material possessions I pride myself on mean nothing in the working world, no one cares that I own 387 DVDs and certainly no one is bothered if I spend my weekend listening Celine Dione. Thank you for teaching me that it’s ok to be quiet, that every argument isn’t worth it and that sometimes it’s ok to just keep yourself to yourself and stay silent for a minute or two.
Sometimes it’s ok to be clueless, there will always be someone to respect your honesty and help you with your journey. The journey from graduation to the grave is simply a case of history repeating itself because it’s simple: high school never ends.