I never understood the phrase "school shaped my life" until I got to university and realised how much of a burden it had been. It was always about grades, not learning. The teachers weren't really there for us, they were just in charge of making sure we knew how to complete content so that we could get good SAC and exam results. I didn't have any interest in doing well until year 12 when I realised that this was my last chance to make something out of myself. Even though it's been three years since I left, school still shapes me because now I'm trying to figure out what career path will be best suited for me without feeling like I'm being pulled back by the expectations from secondary school.
I've always had a pretty positive self-image as I was raised in a very loving family, but the truth is that my own self-image was wrong. The first time I realised this, it actually made me happy. In primary school, the kids would call me "dumb" and "stupid." It's easy to get bullied when you're young because you don't know any better and your parents can't help protect you from everything. If someone told me I had done something well, I never believed them. They were just trying to be nice to make me feel better about myself which wasn't going to work because deep down inside I didn't believe anything anyone said about me even if they complimented me.
I never realised how much my self-image was impacting who I am. All this time, I've been thinking that my marks at school was a part of my identity and it's not as important as what you do or say.
But when I started to take a closer look at myself, I saw that my school experience has had an impact on how confident and happy I feel about myself every day. And now, after learning more about why self-image affects me so much, even though it shouldn't matter at all, I know for sure that it's time to start taking steps towards becoming the person inside who can love themselves unconditionally--no matter what marks I received at school or an ATAR score. I am so much more than my self- image led me to believe.