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Women can rule!

Michelle Monaghan PhotoWritten by Michelle Monaghan – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

Today, I write about something extremely inspiring. She became Queen at the age of 25 in 1952 and now in 2017, at the age of 90, Queen Elizabeth is our longest reigning monarch.

Monday the 6th of February marked the day that Queen Elizabeth’s reign started 65 years ago, celebrating her Sapphire Jubilee. This remarkable event not only reminds us of how long she has reigned for, but that she is an incredible woman who continues to show the world just how strong a woman can be.

It all started from the moment her Uncle King Edward VIII abdicated as King in 1936, making her Father become King George VI. Now, the (then) Princess Elizabeth was first in line to the throne. She would be the first Queen since the death of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. This was a wondrous thing in itself as apart from Queen Victoria, there had only been two or three Queens in England’s lifetime.

However, Princess Elizabeth wasn’t to be the royal princess everyone expected.

She became a Girl Guide of the newly created 1st Buckingham Palace Company and was later enrolled as a Sea Ranger. These are not the ‘typical’ involvements for a princess but became a part of setting her course as an independent woman from the beginning. Princess Elizabeth would then go on to do something even more extraordinary! In the last year of WWII, the now 18 year old princess, trained and served as a driver and mechanic in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service.

WWII was an opportunity for women to come out and take jobs that men would normally do to support the ongoing war.  Princess Elizabeth took this opportunity wholeheartedly. It is even said that she spent months convincing her father to let her join up.

See how she wasn’t ‘FORCED’ to do it! She ‘WANTED’ to do it herself! She knew what she wanted to do for her country and she went for it! This highlights to us that if you want to do something badly, you’ll do it! Just as our Queen had done.

Sadly, in 1952 Queen Elizabeth’s Father King George VI passed away due to ill health. Elizabeth away on a tour of Kenya, Australia and New Zealand with her husband Prince Phillip, was now Queen. Queen Elizabeth is to be admired for her how she took on her new role as Queen, in the time of her Father’s death.

She didn’t just retire from public for a few months and grieve her Father’s loss! She went straight into the role that was expected of her, since she became heir to the throne. She wasn’t a weak woman who would leave everything to her councilors of men, or her husband, until she was ready to step out of mourning.  She would be the Queen and that is exactly what she did!

I personally know what the loss of a loved one feels like, as I’m sure many of you out there do too, so I think we can all relate to Queen Elizabeth. Having to be strong at a time where you really struggle to be, is hard. 

I could go on and on about the Queen’s endless achievements and things she has done, but it is as simple as this. She is a woman in a powerful position whose lifetime has been filled with glorious moments and not so glorious moments. We may not see it, but we as women can relate to her in so many ways, we just have to look a bit closer and see. We have our powerful positions, but in a different way and it can be anything! Just like the Queen, we have our good days and bad days. Even in her older age she gets ill from time to time and she continues on.

Congratulations to Queen Elizabeth on the celebration of her Sapphire Jubilee. May she continue to rule and be an inspirational and strong woman for many more years yet.

Powerful, confident and determined.

Mikah PhotoWritten by Mikah Appel – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

It’s not every day you get the privilege to be coached by Olympic gold medalists.

In 2016, after 35 years of providing a camp to boys across Australia, National Rugby Camp offered an overnight package to girls from around the country. It was held in the rural town of Armidale, in country New South Wales, a small town quite like my own. Being brought up in the sport of rugby, I imagined the camp would be a breeze.

However once I had arrived, being one of only thirteen girls surrounded by over 300 boys, was enough to make any girl want to jump in the car and drive twelve hours straight back home!

Having Olympians like Sharni Williams and Chloe Dalton at the camp was just a small step in helping to build the profile of women’s rugby, reducing the negative stigma surrounding women in male-dominated sports.  Their knowledge, presence, and athletic abilities had a major impact, not only on the small group of girls there, but on the 300 boys that attended too.

For many years, the stereotype that women were weak, delicate, and fragile has deterred many women from participating in male-dominated sports for fear of harassment and ridicule. However, the Australian women’s rugby 7’s win at the Olympics in 2016, helped highlight to girls, that anything men can do, women can do too, proving that we are NOT weak, fragile or delicate, but powerful, confident and determined.

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Australian rugby’s introduction of a National University Sevens Series which includes women, helps to fight stigmas like these, lessening the gender gap and providing more opportunities for females to show our power, determination, and confidence.

While the girls’ Olympic rugby seven’s gold medal was a major win for Australia, it was an even bigger victory for women’s sport.

What it means to ‘be yourself’

Our first Country to Canberra guest blogger for 2017 is the amazing Pamela Perre! She has written a terrific post about embracing all the different parts that make us women in today’s world.

Pamela began her full-time working life completing a year-long traineeship at Karlene Maywald’s Chaffey Electorate Office. She’s a born and bred Riverland girl, and studied journalism and literature at the University of South Australia and Deakin University. While studying, she worked as a journalist and the online editor for The Murray Pioneer for six years, before becoming the editor of The Loxton News in August of 2015. Earlier that year Pamela was awarded the SA Country Press Young Journalist of the Year Award.

Pamela PerreWhat it means to ‘be yourself’

Written by Pamela Perre

My favourite writer, Joss Whedon, once said: “Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.”

In one of his most inspirational speeches to date, he is also quoted as saying “… you are all going to die.”

Mr Whedon, ever the optimist.

I grew up loving the television show he created, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was the first thing I can remember watching where a lady kicked butt, but also cared if she broke a nail.

One of the many things from that show, which stuck with me as I reached my adult years, is that it was okay to be a strong woman, with hard morals, and a boss fly kick – it was okay to be all of that with glitter in your hair.

That it was okay to want to be a princess, with the big, butterfly-embroidered dress – it was okay to want that while pursuing a long, and fulfilling career in journalism.

Which is what I ended up doing, by the way.

My passion for storytelling, in any of its forms, led me to become a newspaper journalist (with secret ambitions to wear a big, chiffon dress, decorated with lace butterflies while I marry a prince – Harry I’m looking at you).

Over my seven-year career, I have won a few awards, helped launch a news website, and was promoted to editor of my newspaper.

To an outsider, reading through my list of achievements, I’ll appear to be a career-driven woman.

Yep, ‘career-driven woman’ – that’s probably the category some people might put me in.

Which isn’t a bad category, but it’s also not the whole truth.

We see thousands of people in passing all the time and, quite regularly (without even thinking about it), place each and every one of them in a category.

Hipster, goth, popular kid, gay girl, lawyer, nervous-wreck, model, straight, smart girl, hot guy, prince.

Why is it that we place everyone else into these little boxes?

I mean, you know that you don’t fit into only one category.

Humans are so much more interesting and have way more shades of grey than that.

Recognising who you are, all of who you are, is the first step to truly ‘being yourself’.  Recognising a power and success in others, is another step towards truly being comfortable with yourself.

Being true to yourself isn’t about being the best journalist in the world.

It’s about being the best journalist, and sister, and mother, and wood worker, and pilot, and princess you can be.

Being the best version of yourself means being best versions of all of yourselves.

The career and the opportunities and the achievements – that all comes after, because people recognise and reward sincerity.

Which brings me back to that second Joss Whedon quote, which is essentially a more grim version of ‘YOLO’.

Its message is not one of reckless abandon, but one of passion and drive.

A message to use your mortality to drive you, and inspire you, and surprise you at every step towards achieving your dreams.

Year Twelve Jitters

Rebecca Pickering

Written by Rebecca Pickering – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

As the summer holidays drew to a close, I was forced to think about what my senior year would entail.

Year 12 is our final year to prove ourselves both academically and as leaders.  It is our last chance to have a set routine of learning from 9-3, our last chance to see our best friends every day and our last chance to have the stability of school before we enter the real world as adults.

Whilst year twelve will be a year of so many lasts, it will also be a year of so many memories, so many highs and lows, and such a big emotional roller coaster.

We are already a few weeks into the school year and formal dresses, dates, schoolies and after formal parties have been the dominant point of discussion, but not one single mention as to what we will be doing after school. Tensions have already begun to flare amongst fellow students, but as my school principal would say, “stress is good, it shows that you care”.

But how much stress is good?

Is it a level that consumes you to the point where you can’t even think straight without your mind going fuzzy and feeling like it has gone into overdrive?

This is the reality that a majority of my fellow year 12 students will unfortunately experience at some point throughout the year, and hence the reason why we are unable to look to the future for fear of failure.

What if we don’t get a good enough OP?

What if we don’t get into uni?

What if we don’t get a good job?

What if, maybe just once this year instead of fearing failure, we tell ourselves that we can do it?

We can get an amazing OP. We can get into uni and with flying colours. We can get an amazing job that we will love.

Maybe, just maybe, we can look to the future some time in our final year, eyes bright and chins high, and imagine all of the incredible things that this world is waiting for us to go out and do.

2016 Power Trip Reflection: “I got so much more than I bargained for!”

bethanBethan Rainey, 2016 Power Trip winner from Bunbury, WA

When I first saw a poster for the Country to Canberra “Power Trip” in my school newsletter I was delighted. With university applications rapidly approaching I was in dire need of a few resume builders, not to mention that the idea of meeting some of Australia’s most powerful women was just cool. So, I set aside a weekend to reduce my take on gender equality in rural Australia to a mere 400 words (it would have been closer to 4000 if I had my way) and sent it off. A game of phone tag with Hannah, a radio interview and newspaper article later, I was off to Canberra – cue panic because I still didn’t own a blazer.

I got so much more than I bargained for from the Power Trip. On the first night, the other girls and I found out that we really were going to be meeting Australia’s most influential women, with Julie Bishop and Tanya Plibersek added to our agenda for the final day. The happy and very real tears evoked by this news were absolutely justified as all the people who met with us gave us their full, undivided attention and put us at ease with genuine advice and anecdotes. Since coming home, I’ve found that everybody is interested to hear about eating breakfast with Julie Bishop, getting a tour of Parliament house and hearing Pauline Hanson’s take on being a woman in politics, but those parts of the trip weren’t actually the most inspiring for me.

Don’t get me wrong; Malcolm Turnbull waving at us during Question Time was by no means a lowlight (I think I’ve told everyone I know about that already), but it was the “Leadership Training Day” preceding  the “Power Day”  that had the biggest impact on me.

I am quite sure that joining the Australian Defence Force is not in the equation for me. Nevertheless, the three ladies who spoke with us about their roles in the ADF presented a particularly thought-provoking session as they discussed the relationship between female leadership, overcoming prejudice, and the ADF’s core values. It was also an honour to have them accompany us to the Australian War Memorial and listen to their personal stories alongside the thousands told at the exhibit.

However, I think the most poignant part of the trip for me was the presentation from TEDx Canberra, which largely focussed on public speaking and how to behave in professional networking scenarios. As a horrid public speaker with an acute case of trembling knees, I was terrified for the speech I had to make the following day, which actually turned out fine thanks to the tricks we had learnt from the presenter, Ingrid. Her advice was made more valuable than any I have ever received because she engaged with the fact that often young girls are afraid to express confidence or pride in an “unfeminine” way. Although her tips were intended for more formal meetings and introductions, I found that they changed my outlook completely on my own behaviour, which I think I have thanked her for an embarrassing amount of times already.

Overall, the factor that made this experience the most special was the people involved. Alongside the powerful women and politicians we were spoiled with incredibly passionate volunteers, a great media team, and the amazing Hannah Wandel, whose hard work in founding this program I appreciate more than I can convey in blog post. Finally, I was most inspired by the other girls on the trip. Each and every one of them had such a unique perspective and experience of gender equality, but most importantly, were motivated to do something to change it.

Forgotten Plaintiffs

11262356_10206720360317866_1929929064_nWritten by Vanessa Sporne – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

We place complete trust in our courts to enforce justice, but can they claim to be ‘just’ when they leave some Australian citizens out in the cold?

We possess basic rights within our society. For example, everyone has the right to a free education, up until our thirteenth year we pay virtually nothing to attend a public school. When it comes to universities the government provides us with options like student loans to ensure that everyone who wants it, gets a chance at a tertiary education.

We also have rights when it comes to health; with Medicare helping us cover the huge costs of treatments, medicines and emergency services when the unimaginable happens.

Our everyday Australian, earning an average wage, has help when it comes to health and education, but what do we do when our legal rights are threatened?

Just ask our Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis who says that, ‘unless you are a millionaire or a pauper, the cost of going to court and protecting your legal rights is beyond you.’

What he means by this is, your average Australian can’t afford private lawyers, and doesn’t qualify for legal aid.

So what does this leave us with?

A gap; a huge group of people who can’t afford to protect their rights, and it’s no wonder when law firms are charging up to $600 an hour.

So we are left with limited options when a legal battle is eminent: pro-bono, legal commissions or self representation. These options are hard to acquire and often don’t achieve the best result.

This problem can only be solved, I believe, by the expansion of the Legal Aid sector. Community legal education can only go so far, because often people need real legal help, with serious legal problems.

The second group of forgotten plaintiffs that have caught my attention are migrants, and especially migrant women.

27% of Australia’s population was born overseas, ruled by foreign governments with foreign legal systems. Culturally and language diverse people (CALD) especially, have a hard time adapting to our systems because they often hail from countries rife with corruption, where they’ve learnt to be suspicious towards official bodies.

They carry this mistrust to Australia, where they continue to avoid approaching legal institutions. In cases of domestic violence, migrant women are left with no one, either not knowing how to find help, or too scared to try. Often, immigrants do not even recognise when a crime has been committed against them, such as in cases of assault and abuse. When they do seek help it’s often with other non-government institutions such as Rape Crisis Centres or community groups.

To provide much-needed services to this second group of vulnerable Australians, legal institutions need to form working relationships with non-government institutions so that potential clients can be referred to legal help if need be. Training for lawyers is essential, so that when CALD people approach them for legal help, they have a basic understanding of their culture and the barriers that might exist between them because of it. This is important, as families can have strong beliefs about allowing officials to get involved in family matters in cases of divorce.

Quotas are another useful strategy; this can ensure that CALD people and women are working in firms and can help, and relate to vulnerable clients. Lastly, education; by educating immigrants about their legal rights, and the paths they can take to defend them, you encourage them to come to you, rather than the other way around.

The ‘legal affordability gap’ and the problems surrounding CALD peoples, are two flaws within the legal system that have to be recognised and addressed.

Unfortunately I, a second year law student, cannot provide all of the answers and solutions – I’ll give it a good try though.

All it takes is Australian people standing up for their rights and asking their government to make a change.

School leavers; thirteen years down – your whole life to go!

handlers 2014Written by Caitlin Heppner – Country To Canberra Teen Blogger

It’s your first day of high school; eight years of schooling down, five more to go! That’s over half way, and before you know it you’ve completed school and are chucked out into the ‘real world’! Suddenly you’ve got people on your back to get a job and you don’t know what to do. Millions of questions are flung at you to help you figure out a career choice but they don’t help. What do you do?

You look back on those 13 years you spent learning to read and write, working  to set yourself up for later in life. School was a huge part of your life, 13 out of 18 years is a fair whack and now you’re expected to adjust to no timetable, no holidays and no excuse to not get a job! What are you supposed to do? Sit on the lounge with a bowl of popcorn and a McLeod’s Daughters marathon maybe…. Yes please!

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Let’s rewind shall we; it is your high school graduation night. 200 of your school friends are sitting in a huge hall, waiting for walk out of those doors one last time. Some are excited, some are nervous. Some are ready and some are not. The school achievers are called up to receive awards; they all know what they want to do. Most are going to university for a further 3 or so years of schooling (totally not your thing!).  A few are setting off to travel the world and discover new things and some have already found jobs which they enjoy.

But not you.

You don’t know what you want to do.

A few years ago, you did some work placement at a couple of places, you liked them but they weren’t really right for you. So where to now?

Well maybe I can help you!

I left school two years ago to undertake a School Based Apprenticeship and formally graduated year twelve last year. As a school leaver, I’ve faced the ‘real world’, but I was lucky. I left and headed straight into a full-time job. I left home, but I had my life sorted. I was one of the lucky ones, so for those of you who don’t know what to expect, here is some advice!

  • Take every opportunity you are offered!  Don’t be afraid to take those couple days off of school to try new things, anything! Because how else are you supposed to discover your interests? School work can always be caught up on or extended (if you ask nicely of course!) I took a day off of school in year 5, and that day I experienced something that had led me to my dream career and many of my successes!
  • Not everyone has to go to Uni! Do you feel like you’re pressured to go to University? It’s not all about Uni you know! If Uni isn’t your thing (or numerous more years of books, homework and lectures), explore other options pre-graduation, try things you may not have thought of before! What about TAFE or an apprenticeship? Trust me, there are plenty more options, if you just seek them out!! I completed my secondary schooling through a school based traineeship, I didn’t have a single subject in year 12! Instead I got a head start in my career. Now, you may be thinking these options are only for people who aren’t academically talented, am I right? Well, let me say this; I was a straight A student, top of my year level and yet I chose a practical option to complete my HSC and I am still as successful as anyone else in my year level, not everyone needs an ATAR!
  • Be prepared and have fun! Now you’re probably asking yourself right now, isn’t leaving school always going to be fun? Unfortunately, not all of the time, but if you can prepare and explore your options for later in life while still at school, you’ll find that things will be a lot smoother sailing in years to come! Be organised, have back-up options! Keep your foot in as many doors as possible so that you’re never out of options. 

Most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy life to its fullest!  After all; being a school leaver opens up a whole new world

Is female fertility fair game?

Han WorsleyWritten by Hannah Worsley – Country To Canberra Teen Blogger

I just can’t win.

This statement could be applied to a lot of things, especially any kind of sports, given my expertise at getting concussions and my lack in terms of actual skills.

However, I’ve recently discovered that I can’t win in terms of what to do about children. In fact, 52% of our society are unwilling losers in this area, who can’t seem to catch a break.

Women of childbearing age, whether they be child-free, trying to conceive, pregnant, or already mothers, would generally be the only people I’d seek to consult about their own personal reproductive/fertility issues and opinions.  Lately though, I’ve spotted a few things that seem to indicate that there are a whole lot of stakeholders I appear to have forgotten. I’m talking about your great grandma who aggressively questions your non-pregnant self, your mates who dismiss your wish to not have children, the mummy bloggers who attack mothers who don’t parent in their chosen way, the politicians who wish to outlaw our access to abortions, the doctors who refuse to assist same sex couples in their endeavours to have children, and the pharmacists who require you to fill out a survey before collecting the morning after pill.

In my eyes, all of these instances are an example of an outsider trying to take away an element of choice for women and it makes women the losers.

Women who want to live a child-free life are selfish and emotionally barren.

Women who can’t go through with a pregnancy, for whatever reason, are murderers.

Women who ask their partners to pick up the morning after pill for them are denied, and women who go to pick it up themselves are questioned about why they need it, beyond the obvious.

It goes beyond women being the clear losers in these specific situations. Females are also reminded of our supposed ‘primary function’ (producing, carrying, and parenting children) in every stage of life.

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Our new NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, was questioned about her childfree status within fifteen minutes of actually taking on the role.  The issue wasn’t just raised- it was suggested that she may not be ‘qualified’ to be a voice on family issues.  It seems that a female political figure has to have personally experienced every issue she may have to legislate on. Want to overhaul the pension? Got to be a pensioner. Want to introduce a set of guidelines for healthy food in school canteens? You need to be a carrot. Want to regulate the car insurance industry? You really ought to be a car.

A new law was just passed in Arkansas (USA) that allows rapists to sue victims who want an abortion and block their access. It also allows parents of minors to do the same if their pregnant child seeks an abortion, and husbands to do the same if their wife follows that path.  A reminder – these people who seek to make the option of abortion obsolete are not, in fact, anti-choice, but rather pro-life (just not of the mother, only of the embryo, which at the point of fertilisation is no more human than a blood cell). It would also appear that they are pro-rapist, pro-misogyny, pro-domestic abuse, pro-health risk, and even pro-death.

Model Chrissy Teigan has been the target of online trolls who believe that her conception of her children through IVF treatment makes her an inferior mother. These are people who are disgusted at this modern technology that takes away the real ‘fair dinkum’ way of conception. People who express that disgust, often do so over the internet, which by the way, happens to be modern technology. Maybe they should take up writing letters rather than tweets, to be more in line with their beliefs.

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Donald Trump (a man) signed an executive order (surrounded by more men) preventing, among other things, the subsidising or funding of abortion (for women) in any way by private healthcare. These patients work hard to pay for an organisation entirely separate to the government and the broken public healthcare system, to provide them with a satisfactory level of care, yet the Trump administration has just taken that away. At least Trump is so committed to consistency that he’s taken action to ban private healthcare from subsidising vasectomies. Oh, wait…….

What I’m trying to highlight, is that outsiders see females and our fertility, as fair game for discussion and derision.

For some reason, it’s fertility, and exclusively female fertility, that is constantly up for debate, often in a room with barely enough women to poke a stick at, if any.

As exciting and miraculous the process of ovulation, fertilisation, and pregnancy is, I’d rather they took their awful reporting, heartbreaking laws, trolling mindsets, and baffling executive orders, right out of my uterus.

What I learnt about life from a poddy calf

unnamed3By Sandy Bauer – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

Ever had someone say ‘that’s impossible’ or ‘you won’t cope with that change’?

I have.  A few times actually, yet I’ve proved those particular people wrong every time.

I’ve always had goals and ideas, some of which didn’t work out or were impossible, but I’ve never been one to let people stop me from having a go.

When I first commenced work, I started in a workplace in which I grew up in. Every part of that idea wasn’t easy for a few reasons;

  1. The fact that my grandad used to be the manager so I knew how things ‘once were’
  2. The fact that I started half way through the year
  3. I also had to adjust to the idea of how things are ‘now’ done (by somebody who isn’t my Grandfather).

One of the biggest things I’ve ever learnt in life and especially when it comes to a job, is to leave what you were taught previously at the door and be entirely open to new ideas and management. That wasn’t easy, but I’ve learnt to bite my tongue and accept change.

I learnt to do this through having ‘resilience’ which is a major skill to have in anything you a’re a part of; work and life in general.

Resilience is having the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties of all kinds.

Just about every living thing around you has resilience of some type, which brings me to how I learnt about resilience… poddies.

For those of you who don’t know what poddies are;– they’re calves which no longer have mothers due to unfortunate circumstances.  Most calves are kept with their mothers for half of the year until they are big and strong enough to face what the world throws at them – on their own. However, some aren’t lucky enough to have the support of their mothers.

You’re probably thinking I’m insane right now and where am I going with this?

Well, poddies are some of the strongest animals out, they have a way of being able to bounce back after what gets thrown at them.

One of the many things that they endure are the large population of wild dogs.   Being a small calf without a mum to protect you – you soon become an easy victim for a meal or even just a toy to play with. Unfortunately most just get played with – dogs do a lot of injury and most don’t make it. However, the ones that do survive, if they are stronger than the sick days they have while they fight infection (with our help), they have the resilience to ‘bounce back’ and soon enough they can go back to living a healthy and fit life.

I have helped raise had over 40 poddy calves.

Whilst having to care for these poddies I have spent hours on end, loving and encouraging them to try and take their first mouthful of milk in the hope they get that ‘spark’ back to life when they finally realise that someone cares and they no longer have to give up.

I have brought back to life, numerous poddies – ones with sunken eyes and cold tongues. It is only for the fact that they have stuck it out, they have been resilient, that they have been able to bounce back.

In the case of poddy calves, ‘it is not the strongest of them that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most able to deal with change.’

Which brings me back to your life.

If you have goals, dreams or generally something you are passionate about don’t ever let ‘that’s impossible’ or ‘you won’t cope with that change’ stop you from at least trying! It’s important that whatever you want to achieve – you’re stubborn about your goals but entirely flexible about your methods.

If a poddy is resilient enough to lose its mother four months before it is to be weaned and is still be able to pick itself up after everything the world throws at it, YOU can be resilient enough to achieve your goals and dreams, even if it’s baby steps.

After all – life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we just get stronger and more resilient.

A secret confession of a soon to be university student

Rachel Alger Country to Canberra photoWritten by Rachel Alger, Country to Canberra Teen Blogger.

I’ll let you in on a big secret.

Are you ready?

I have no idea what I’m doing.

I pretend to know what I’m doing, which makes people think I know what I’m doing, and they’re pretty impressed with how I know what I’m doing. But I don’t. I’m pretending.

To some extent, I’ve got it sorted. I know I’m going to university in <place> to study <these degrees> which I’ll hopefully use in a job like <this>. If you hear me plan any further than that, I’m pretending to know what I’m doing.

However, I do know this: Very soon, I start university. I’m moving, rather appropriately, from the ‘country’ to Canberra, and in the first few months I’ll have near-insurmountable levels of change pelted at me. Any big change is full of uncertainties, which are not always nice nor useful to think about.

Here’s what I’ve decided though.  

There’s no point focusing on the things you don’t know.

You either end up with strangely distorted expectations of the future, or unhealthy worries about the worst case scenarios – neither of which, by the way, are ever helpful.

I could spend days agonising over my courses, my academic performance, or even just how to “do uni”.

How will I manage my time and have balance in my life? Will my workload be too much? What will my marks be like?

I could shoot my worries from a negativity cannon pointed directly into the future – what will my job, my career be? Will I enjoy it or will it be my only option?

I could spend days in agony, but I won’t. Worries drift by on every whispered breeze, but dwelling on them won’t resolve the problems they pose. It’s a far better use of my time to concentrate on the things I do know.

I do know that I will learn some really neat things this year.

I know that I will learn from my classes, from those around me, and also from my own mistakes.

I know I will strive to improve myself and my knowledge in any way I can.

I do know that I will meet some fantastic, interesting, unique, and generally pretty decent people. I will look to the future with some amazing new friends and can already hear the laughter of celebratory reunions as we old friends, reminisce.

I do know that everything will be new. I’ll explore a new city and eventually get to know its traits and flaws, be that an idiosyncratic public transport system or slightly alien customs (what is a Freakshake, anyway?).

I’ll try new things, see new sights, and get out of my comfort zone (I actually don’t know whether bikes are safe).

I do know that uni will be hard. I also know that I will try my hardest.

I do know that nothing will ever feel as good as coming home.

Change should be cause for celebration, not worry.

Here’s some advice I’m giving to myself.

Try to look at what you know for certain, and understand what YOU can do to make the most of your changes. Dance into life not with the panic of hurtling through space at five hundred metres per second, but with those feelings creeping into your smile: You’re a bit nervous, full of awe, and you know something exciting is coming your way really soon.

Those who seem to know what they’re doing are probably just pretending anyway.