What I wished I'd known in S1 and other advice from S6's...
Associate Editor19th April 2021
When I first started at the academy, English was one of my least favourite subjects. This would shock anyone who knows me now, especially my English teachers, as I’m hoping to study it at university. I also wanted to take Advanced Higher Physics, however I soon discovered my lack of mathematical inclination was going to severely impact my enjoyment of anything STEM. Reflecting on S1, my memories are mostly far from fond. I don’t remember vast swathes of the year, and what I do remember often fills me with embarrassment. Perhaps I am too pessimistic, and I won’t pretend that this will be the case for everyone. At the very least, S1 won’t take the same awkward tween form for everyone. With a little more self awareness than I had at the time, I’ve been reflecting on what I would have wanted to know as a P7 coming into S1. So with all the wisdom I have as a sixth year - it isn’t much, but it’s honest - I have come up with my top 3 pieces of advice for S1’s. Below that is advice from some of my fellow S6’s, which will hopefully mean every area is covered through a range of experiences. Learn from my mistakes, and then when you go and make your own, learn from those too.
- There is no permanent state of self
Who you are now is temporary. Who I am now is temporary. Everyone around you is still a changing, growing, living thing. As a teenager, your brain won’t even be fully developed when you leave academy, but take a moment and think about what that actually means. Every single person around you is going to change over the next few years. Don’t be surprised if you become friends with someone you don’t like right now. Don’t beat yourself up if your dream career changes between now and sixth year. Don’t become mortified if you no longer enjoy something that you used to, be that a school subject or a piece of media, because it’s cringey. Acknowledge who you were, and who you are now, and let yourself grow. But let everyone around you grow too. As C. S. Lewis once said, ‘there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind’.
- The only thing certain is change
Similar to my last point, change is going to happen whether you like it or not. I’m hesitant to say embrace change, because for some people that’s too friendly a greeting for something you really don’t want. When Smash Mouth sang that ‘the years start coming and they don’t stop coming’, they meant it. Sometimes change is a great thing, coming at exactly the right time and providing a perfect opportunity you need. Sometimes you’re going to hate it, and it’s going to mean giving up something you love or crushing a dream or dividing your group of friends - whatever form change comes in. You just have to roll with the punches. If you just accept the inevitability of the shifting tides of life, you can start to work with what you have at the time. Look at what’s available to you, even if it’s not what you want, say ‘man, I really hate what’s going on right now’, have a mope, and then get up and bring about your own change. Nothing is more powerful than that.
- Self-deprecating humour does more harm than good, always
Right - I can already hear some people lining up 50 ‘jokes’ about how they won’t take this advice because they are terrible, unloveable, or worthless. Alternatively, you might call it a ‘coping mechanism’, which is what I did for years. I can’t even class these comments as jokes any more because they aren’t actually funny. They damage your mental health and perception of self worth at a time when you are at your most emotionally turbulent and vulnerable. Not only do they reinforce a belief of your own worthlessness but they alienate you from your friends and peers. No one knows how to respond most of the time. A constant stream of self deprecating comments damages the mental health of those around you as much as it does yourself. I could write essays about how I think this type of humour should be left in 2016, but instead I’ll leave you with an alternative; self appreciating humour is far funnier. People don’t worry as much if you’re joking about how you are, actually, the centre of the universe compared to being a blight on the earth. Don’t overuse it of course, everything in moderation - but flip the narrative and see what it does for you.
I am, of course, writing as one person with a perspective limited to one set of life experiences. In the spirit of diversity, I also asked some of my fellow S6’s what advice they would give to their S1 self. I shall pass the proverbial mic onwards, but not before saying thank you to my entire Banchory Academy experience and everyone who was a part of it - though challenging, this school made me who I am now, and I hope it can do the same for you.
Advice from Rhona Bowie
"I would say to try and make friends outside of your primary school circle, not to be embarrassed about answering questions in class and to be more secure in yourself."
Advice from Mim Bell
"listen just let yourself enjoy things even if you’re not good at them, that ain’t the point, they don’t need “‘value’” to be fun
guess what - you’ll never stop changing as a person, we’re truly just made of what we like and what we choose to do and that’s constantly shifting baybe!
please eat breakfast and like go to sleep before 12… dude
you don’t gotta know everything yet y’know
learning is actually fun, it’s just the education system strives to slorp up creativity and a true love for knowledge but just wait, ohhoho boy just wait until u find your thing, it’s gonna be great
honestly just be kind at every possible opportunity"