My 17 Year Old Self

Monday afternoon I went to my old high school. I have recently agreed to be on a committee – an alumni committee – and went to meet the teacher who organised the whole thing. She was one of my favourite teachers when I was there, and she’s one of my favourite people still!

The memories came flooding back from the second I turned into the street the school entrance is on. But to walk into a room and see teachers who were there 15 years ago…that blew my mind. This one teacher I went to see, she’s been teaching there for 23 years.

I think I was pretty lucky growing up. I had one primary school, one high school, one university. I was fortunate to have that stability. Walking through the buildings, seeing kids in class…I can’t explain how it made me feel. Nostalgic? Sad? Sad for the years I spent there, thinking how awful it was, when really, school should be a wonderful time in your life.

And the kids. The kids looked so young! Were we that young? Were we that…what’s the word I’m looking for? That easily influenced? These kids, I don’t think they realise what is ahead for them. If only we could take them by the shoulders and make them see, make them understand, make them think about their choices and actions. But we can’t. They have to learn, just as we had to learn.

And God Bless the men and women who take it upon themselves to become teachers and try to be the ones to ready these kids for the real world. It must be an incredibly thankless job. When one of the teachers found out I was one of Mr C’s last students, she remembered us all clearly. Like it was yesterday.

Mr C was our year level co-ordinator, from grade 8, right through to grade 12. He knew us all by heart. We adored him, and we were like his 300 kids he didn’t have. On graduation night, his buzzer went off – his wife was in labour with their 2nd child. Three months later, Mr C was dead. The church was overflowing into the streets at his funeral. It was just so awful. His youngest would be 15 years old now.

There’s no real point to this post, other than to say I’ve had a trip down memory lane this week, and it’s left me feeling sad. If only we could go back, have a chat to our 17 year old selves. Tell them what we know now. But I’ve learned more times than I’d like to admit, that it’s just not possible.

What would you tell your 17 year old self?



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