The Way We Live for Sunday 14 Nov 2010: You are not your OP score …

I remember what this week was like despite the fact it unfolded ten years ago. Okay twenty. Fine, twenty-one if you want to get specific.  Twenty-one years ago this week I was facing my final week of high school.   My perm and I sat through those last few school assemblies excited and terrified.  Ahead of me lay a brand new world. A world where “regulation sock height” was no longer an issue and where I wasn’t expected to like or understand Biology.  Or maths. Or PE.

As the Class of 2010 prepare to graduate, I thought I’d share three pieces of advice  – things I wish I’d known before I walked out of those school gates for the final time.


  1. You Will Not Be A Success Or Failure in Life Based on Your OP Score.  I know it’s a big deal. I remember. But the truth is that long-term, your OP score has nothing to do with how successful you will be in life.  An OP 1 is no guarantee of anything.  You can be the smartest person in the room but if you’re not resilient, if you don’t have the ability to “bounce back” when failure and disappointment strike (and trust me, they’ll strike), then you won’t get anywhere.  It’s the people in life who – when they fall down – are able to get back up, dust themselves off and keep going who inevitably achieve their goals.  So if  — like me — you don’t get the OP score you were hoping for – don’t stress.  If you really want to study something, you’ll find a wormhole.  When one door shuts, try squeezing through the cat flap.
  2. Real Life Has Real Consequences.  It may not have felt like it but high school is actually a fairly nurturing, safe environment.  Real life? Not so much.  In the real world – be it in a job or at uni – you face more than a Saturday morning detention if you behave like a bully. Or steal something.  Or mutter racist or sexist remarks. And if you go on to further study and choose to spend your days sitting in the Rec Club discussing Mad Men rather than attending lectures – no teacher is going to come looking for you.  And your grades will suck.  Welcome to life.
  3. Do What You Love. The biggest risk you’ll take is NOT doing what you love.  Work takes up a hell of a lot of your life.  If you’re studying something purely to please your family, you risk living a second-rate version of your own life.  And life’s too short not to feel fulfilled by what you do every day.  If you’re not sure yet what it is you want to do – don’t stress either.  Pick something. If it doesn’t work out – you get to change direction. You have the right to change your mind.

So Class of 2010, take care. And know that whatever unfolds over the next few weeks, you’ll be just fine.


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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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