"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Eyes Open

Now Playing: Eyes Open by Taylor Swift (every lesson forms a new scar, they never thought you'd make it this far)

I did it.

The Certificate of Distinction is awarded to the top 0.5% (or top two) students in each WACE course, and for pretty much all of high school my goal has been to get the English Certificate of Distinction. And I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels to finally get it, after all the sleepless nights, setbacks, bullying, stress, loneliness. It's euphoric to finally silence all the haters, to prove everyone wrong, to make my friends and family and teachers proud. It's impossible to think of pride as a sin when I'm so unbelievably fucking proud of myself for making it this far. I just can't wipe the smile off of my face.

It's been a long, hard journey, but my love of literature and the written word has remained strong and steady from the get go. Because more than numbers, more than certificates or awards or bragging rights, English has always been my first love. Numbers mean nothing and certificates are just paper without this obsession and passion that transcends almost everything else in my life.

For all the people who told me I was arrogant and selfish, that I was overreaching myself and just trying to make myself look good and others feel bad, the only difference between you and me is that you are afraid and I was fearless. What I've achieved isn't because I'm any better, or any smarter, or at a greater advantage. I've worked damn hard for everything I've ever gotten, but that's not it, either. I was ready to jump in head first, fearless, and you couldn't handle that. But I thank you, for making this path so difficult, for trying to cut me down every time I started to crawl my way to the top. Because I've learned, from you, that the things you want in life won't fall into your lap like cherries - you have to stand up and get them for yourself, because they're not going to magically float your way. You have to do something in life, write something worth reading or do something worth the writing. History can write itself, but it won't write you into it. That's the difference between the people who play the game and people who watch on the sidelines. That's the difference between the people who will be remembered and the people who will be forgotten. That's the difference between the people who are in the top 0.5% of the state and the people who bullied them relentlessly. That's the difference between me and you.

I told people that I listen to Eyes Open, the official single of The Hunger Games Movie, and think of English this year and my work towards getting the Certificate of Distinction. Perth Modern School was a wonderful, amazing place to learn and grow as a student and as a person, but it wasn't always the most supportive place and high school got very lonely at times. This was the first year where English wasn't just my baby anymore, something that I did purely for myself - it felt like everybody was watching. Sometimes it felt like everybody was waiting for me to break down, and I knew that watching me fail to achieve my goals would be just as entertaining as watching me take the crown. And sometimes the only thing that kept me going after all my friends, even some of my teachers, told me I was worthless was knowing that I have something that they don't.

I would like to thank the wonderful teachers in the Perth Modern School English Department, who have never been anything less than fully supportive of not only me but every other English student at the school. They are truly amazing people doing truly amazing work and I hope they know that I and so many other students are sincerely thankful for all of their wisdom and hard work. I would especially like to thank my English teacher of three years, Mr Quin, who is the most amazing English teacher in the history of the world and has taught me everything I know. I would also like to thank the retiring Head of English, Mr Allen, for listening to a little girl with big dreams when nobody else did.

My beautiful, wonderful, amazing parents, who are the most supportive parents of even my most impossible dreams - I can't thank you enough for being so supportive, for not chucking a fit when I quit maths before I could count properly, for understanding that I want to be a writer and not waste my life in some stereotypical Asian occupation, for putting up with me trying to prop a book up against the tissue box whilst I ate ramen and babbled about Shakespeare and post-modern American poetry.

My precious handful of friends, you are truly amazing people. Thank you for picking me up every time I fell down, for making me believe in myself when I started to become a whiny insecure little shit. I love you all to the moon and back. Stay beautiful.

I know I'm gushing at the moment, but this is only the beginning. I can't wait to get back and start uni, and I'm truly excited for what the future holds for me. It's going to be weird and wonderful and I'm going to be happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way. It'll be miserable and magical, and every day will be a whole new adventure. But even though I'm still a little innocent jumping and falling into the big bad world, I know that one of the sweetest pleasures of life is curling up with a cup of tea and a good book. And, you know...writing essays in the middle of the night when you're so tired that you can't sleep.

Watch this space, people. I'm determined to do you all proud. I'm determined that we will be remembered.


Adelaide Dupont said...

Congratulations Lady Solitaire!

And working so hard for so long and having so much fun along the way (and giving a lot of pleasure too).

Yes, the 2012 cohort was fantastic, and I hope you all get remembered in your own communities and the world at large.

After this, pride is pride. And there's no shame in fame. So shout it out loud!

Post-modern American poetry?

Rod Quin said...

There's a certain English teacher who's pretty fucking proud of you too. And very pleased for you - you totally deserve it.