Securing a seat on the coach with your favourite friend was your most stressful task of the week... You fantasised about flaunting the coolest, chicest and edgiest non-uniform day ensemble for months in advance... Gossip zoomed around at lightning speed and you dreaded to hear your name whispered in the canteen... And PE was your idea of torture.
When you're sandwiched between your (seemingly never ending) school years, school is your whole world. Although talked about and prepared for, leaving school and stepping into adult reality is an alien thought, one that you can't comprehend actually happening. But now that I've been out of sixth form for over a year, my high school days have mostly merged together. What once were individual days that dragged on and on (remember waiting and waiting for that bell to ring?) and consumed my life, now just take the shape of a few memories and emotions... and my grades of course!
I only felt fully confident at school during sixth form. Eleven is so young, and although I felt pretty grown up when beginning year seven, when I see the slightly terrified looking little shrimps shuffling to the bus stop with their too long blazer sleeves and trouser legs, I realise how tiny and niave I was. I can remember being petrified to knock on a teacher's office door to ask a simple question in year seven, and letting myself become so angry at a frustrating experience whilst being in a badly managed school musical in year eleven. Looking back now, now that I am nineteen years old and have moved to a different city for university, these incidents that I overthought seem so insignificant. They didn't feel it at the time though!
During year thirteen, I dreaded my very last day of school. thinking that I was going to miss my friends, favourite teachers and just the school environment a great deal. Despite my previous nervousness and usual teenage awkwardness, I felt much more like my true self in sixth form, and enjoyed the relaxed, grown up atmosphere. My school was fairly laid back and the focus wasn't all on grades - we were allowed to have a laugh too, and the thought of never again having a laugh with my pals and teachers in the classroom made me very sad.
But I have to admit, much to my surprise, I haven't missed school at all. I was never convinced when teachers told me in my last year that my life was just beginning... but now I agree. School was such a bubble, where the role that you are given in year seven, be it the nerd, tomboy, trendsetter or weirdo, appears to stick with you, even if by sixth form you are a totally different person.
Leaving school gave me the opportunity to start afresh, with the advantage of already being the person who I want to be... or trying to! School years are so important for finding yourself, making mistakes and growing up, but they are just a part of life, a stepping stone, a necessary chapter. I keep in touch with my best friends, and of course I can go back and visit school... but truthfully, I don't want to. That chapter of my life is over, and I'm content with the memories that I have... even if some of them make me cringe! It would feel odd going back to a place I'm not a part of anymore, with lots of faces I don't recognise.
I'm glad that I haven't missed school and that I am enjoying the new stage in my life. If you have just finished school, your life really is just beginning, you will be amazed at what is outside the bubble.