The biggest thing that you need to know about Year 12 is that it is not the end.
I am not sure what prompted me to write this piece now but it has been 18 years in making and I’d always wondered when I would get the chance to recount my year 12 and end of high school story.
The reason being is that I really messed up. Although it was the catalyst that changed my life forever, it was also one of the worst years of my life. This was due to my poor choices and lack of insight. I was immature, selfish and hurt my parents deeply through my actions and more than that despite having the intelligence to succeed, I decided to do things my way, a massive mistake.
So no matter where you are in your journey, whether you are starting to worry about the end of high school or whether you have completely messed up your high school career or are wondering about your next step after a less than stellar high school effort, I want you to know that the end of high school is only the beginning of the adventure.
Most people who meet and interact with me now on a professional basis would have never guessed that I performed so poorly in year 12, as most doctors are usually high achievers through their schooling years.
But I could have never imagined as a lost and broken 17year old, that I would be working as a doctor today, managing the complex health problems of my patients at the practice and anaesthetising patients for surgery at the regional hospital.
But there was a period of my life that I did think that everything was over and that I had messed up my life or at least it felt that way!
I know for a fact, that it is by the grace of God, that I was able to stand up, dust myself off and face the challenges that I that I had in my life at that time.
The high school years
You see, year 12 was filled with parties, no homework, playing and writing music with my friends and smoking pot. Although in the summer of 1996-97 I made the decision to stop smoking and get on with the business of study, it did not last long. One day passed until a phone call from a friend led to a year- long stoner party. At the end there wasn’t anyone laughing.
My inattention to schoolwork had started in year 11 as I became increasingly distracted with music, parties and getting stoned. My smoking habit turned into a daily ritual, which would last for approximately 2 years until I started to work full time after high school.
As a result my judgment was consistently clouded and my behavior at home was atrocious something which I apologised for later fervently, when I was in medical school. But I continued along this path because it was my only escape from the mounting pressure that I felt about year 12 and my future.
Like any vicious cycle, my year 11 grades of B’s and C’s would have improved to A’s and B’s with diligence and focus, but the more distracted I was with my extra-curricular activities the more I slid into academic failure. This also coincided with mounting teacher frustration and suspensions for my bad behavior and unexplained absences from class.
The pressure that I felt in year 12 was overwhelming as it genuinely appeared like everything rested upon my performance in the end of year exams and gaining entry into university. I would like to note that my parents were extremely supportive and tried everything to connect with me and didn’t pressure me with high expectations (they never had – strange for Malaysian parents). They were more concerned about my health as a result my self-destructive behavior, which was the root cause of these issues.
Lets be real, I didn’t study very much at all in year 12 and for the time that I sat down to read my text books, I was distracted and most likely under the influence.
So it was no surprise that I felt the blood draining from my face and the churning in my stomach as I opened the letter containing my tertiary examination entrance (TEE) results. I don’t know why I expected for anything better than I received, having put in such a dismal effort over the course of the last two years.
My score was a dismal 272 out of a possible 510. I did try to look for an equivalent ATAR score but you can take my word that it wasn’t very good at all. It wasn’t something that you would feel comfortable sharing at a table with your peers, yet alone my parents with their friends!
I did want to attend university but with a score of 272, my options were extremely limited and feeling of failure was sickness in my stomach that I couldn’t shake.
It was a reality now. My poor choices and immaturity had led to this moment and for the first time I saw as a young man, that I was in charge of what type of life I would ultimately have by the friends I kept, the activities I engaged in and effort I placed into study, work or business.
To make matters worse I had lost my part-time job due to a number of indiscretions and had crashed my mother’s car, all of this in the space of two months of finishing school and exams.
In the next article in this series will I share about the aftermath of year 12 and my path towards becoming a doctor. We all have a past and what matters most is what we’ve done since then and how we are serving the world right now.
Thank you for reading and please feel leave a comment, I would love to hear from you, till next time.
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