In two days I’ll be going back to school, for the last time ever, for my first day as a Year 13. This day always seemed so far away – Year 13’s always seemed so mature and OLD to me. To tell the truth, I really don’t feel like I’m qualified to be a Year 13 – but here I am.

In many ways, I’m so looking forward to this year. I’ll be the oldest in the school, experiencing even more freedom and responsibility than ever. I can wear mufti! I can go into town for lunch! I’ll have great times with my friends. The wellbeing committee I’m on has all sorts of cool stuff planned. I’ll be taking subjects that I actually really like with teachers that will treat me like an adult. It’ll be stressy and crazy but it’s going to be a great time.

But it’s a very bittersweet feeling. As excited as I am for the coming year, I can’t help but think about how it’s the last one like it. I’m stuck in this weird place where I’m sick to death of school, but terrified to leave. After all, this is all I’ve ever known. I have lived my life in this sometimes stressful, sometimes crazy but always constant routine. Exams, homework, sitting in classes, extracurriculars, friends, lunchtimes on the field. It’s exhausting, and I’m over it, but it’s really quite comforting. For the past 12 years, my goals have always been clear (to get good grades) and I have always been sure what I would be doing Monday-Friday, 40 weeks of the year (sitting in a classroom). Although I do know that the years to come at uni and beyond will hold great times, it’s hard to let go of what has been such a big part of my life.

It really doesn’t help that I’m not sure what I want to do after school. Decisions about universities and where to live and what to study always seemed on the distant horizon, something to be worried about later. But scholarship and hall applications start around August, which makes this an actual pressing problem that I have to face. The magnitude of the choice scares me. I have the power. I could choose to live anywhere, study anything, and it’s all up to me. Perhaps the scariest thing is that every single Year 13 I’ve talked to is amazed at how fast the year goes. I can’t help but feel it’ll all fly past in the blink of an eye and one day I’ll wake and suddenly be in the big wide world.

All I can do, I think, is take it one day at a time – and remember that whatever I do, it’ll all turn out alright in the end.

Kate is a Year 13 student from Canterbury. She enjoys music, languages, sunny days, and a good book.

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