For my sister- and all the other matriculants

Updated: May 24

Firstly, I should say congratulations on completing your final year of high school. I know that matric was hard for me and that was before we were hit by a pandemic. So, really I cannot express how proud I am of you for making it through regardless of all the challenges you were presented with. Granted, I am writing this before your actual results come out so I don’t know what the final outcome is. But I have faith in you because I know how hard you worked to ensure that everything does go well. And if things don’t go as planned, that’s absolutely okay.

We all have different journeys in life and sometimes we'll have detours along the way; other times it will feel like life is being accelerated to a point where you can’t keep up with all the progress you’re making. Either way, you are exactly where you need to be, and the place you find yourself in will help you grow and develop as an individual, which is why you need to trust in the process that is life. Things won’t always go the way you plan but that’s what makes life interesting.

I know you’ve been struggling with choosing a direction to take in life. Some of your friends have probably even questioned whether or not university is even worth it. They say we live in an age where you are able to go online and teach yourself new concepts needed to succeed in life. And yet dad is still a firm believer in receiving a formal tertiary education before experimenting and exploring what else life has to offer. They are all right. But, my darling, only you know the correct decision that is best for what will bring YOU fulfillment in life.

So, I rate try it all and find out what works for you.

I have a friend who swears that sometimes you have to try things that you don't like in order to figure out what it is that you do like. This probably sounds all wishy washy for you, and you would probably like a more concrete answer. The truth of the matter is that some people go to university (or even college- which is just as valuable as any university!) and absolutely thrive whilst others don’t. Some take a gap year and make the most of life to figure out who they are and what they want out of life, whilst others sit at home the whole time and wonder why they can’t figure out what will bring them joy. Whatever decision you make you really need to make the most out of it. The only way to make it on this planet we call 'Earth' is to actively live, and not let life passively pass you by because that’s how you end up losing yourself.

If you do decide on going the university route, I know first year can be such a scary thing. Pandemonium! That’s the only word I feel truly describes my experience at university back in first year. It was a crazy time for me and I only hope that my words will make you feel more at ease with the experience.

I remember I felt so nervous about the whole thing because someone thought it would be a good idea to scare me with the knowledge of how many first-year student’s fail and/or drop out of university. I was so terrified that - literally - I only slept about two to three hours each night. And for the rest of the hours I was awake I was studying if I was not in class.

It was really bad. I continued this way for about four months until I crashed one day because my body could no longer take the strain. The lesson here is: yes university is hard, no it is not worth your well being, and yes everything must be done in moderation.

You can still have a good social life and still perform well academically. The trick is to find a balance that works for you. It may take time but you will find it. Most importantly, ask for help. There will always be others who have gone through what you are going through, and they will be more than happy to help you through it. This could be either through family and friends, campus mentors, student support services, and even 2nd and 3rd year students at res.

This is why I really recommend staying at a student residence or commune or someplace similar at least for your first year. I received so much support from student in years above me at res, and they helped me through so many of my breakdowns, that I honestly don’t know how I would have survived if not for them.

I also formed many meaningful connections and developed such strong friendships, that I think it’s a good way to connect to different people who come from different backgrounds. It may be a bit of a culture shock at first but really it will help you be more empathetic and understanding, and will teach you how to deal with different personalities.

Another great way to do this is by joining a club/society/sports team or whatever else you’re interested in. No matter where you go there will be other students with similar interests looking to join that very same club you’re interested in. And if not, start your own club- you would be surprised at how many people would be interested!

You might come to find that you lose a little sense of self whilst trying to navigate social constructs and trying to discover who you are and what your purpose is in life. Remember that you might have many tiny purposes instead of one big purpose. And so, as time moves on so too does your purpose. Don’t worry too much if you can’t seem to figure it all out in one go.

At the same time, it’s equally important to remain true to your authentic self. Don’t be swayed by others. Don’t try to change yourself into something you’re not comfortable with. You can keep yourself centered by grounding yourself in relationships with those who truly care about you- your family, true friendships, your religious/spiritual beliefs or any other guide that has not led you astray thus far. Those who really care about you will only have good intentions and positive energy for you.

Your university experience will be what you make of it- as with anything else in life. University really is a place where you go to discover yourself. If you leave it only knowing what you were taught in class, then you would have missed out on the greatest lesson of all. What is that lesson I’m talking about? Live and you shall discover.

Whatever path you decide to embark on, I’ll be your number one fan motivating you along the way. I’m really proud of all that you’ve achieved and truly cannot wait to see what the universe has in store for you in this new chapter of life. I wish you all the best, and am always here when you need me.

Love and light,

Your sister <3

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