If I knew then what I know now...

Walking into my junior high school in Sydney’s west for the first time in 30 years, my initial thought caught me by surprise. How small it all felt. The quadrangle felt tiny compared to my memories when, as a 15 year old girl, the space seemed to swallow me in its vast concrete-greyness each day.

So it was ironic that although it felt smaller, my alma mater had grown from an all-girl’s convent school to a behemoth co-ed institution serving one of the region’s fastest growing local areas.

The careers adviser, a man I recall as my year 10 social sciences teacher, had asked me to meet the weekly morning coffee careers group and talk to them about my journey as a marketer and business owner.

Year 9 and 10 eyes betrayed the fact that these students had absolutely no idea what the future would hold for them.

It got me thinking: if she were sitting in the room today, what advice would I give 15 year old me?

Here’s my top ten. Number 11 is a bonus.

  1. School is such a small part of your life and there will come a time when it doesn’t matter.
  2. Work hard.
  3. Be patient. You will never be CEO tomorrow so take a year off, travel and enjoy yourself.  Opportunity will be there when you get back.
  4. Respect experience but challenge the norm.
  5. Be inquisitive. It’s ok to have no idea, but do something about changing that.
  6. Make mistakes. And own them. Be frank and fearless!
  7. Have fun. Lots of fun. And don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up.
  8. DO find and listen to people who will inspire you, support you and give you good advice.
  9. DON’T listen to the bullies. Life will be filled with people keen to see you fail to make themselves feel better.
  10. Hang on to youthful passion as long as you can. Stay enthusiastic, stay motivated and be bold.
  11. Sometimes the best surprises come when you don’t “make it” like you hoped.

30 years of hindsight is a wonderful thing and those wide-eyed kids certainly were recipients of my post school learnings. Though when it came to planning for a future career my advice was simple: find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

At 15 years old I had plans to be the State Coronor
If she were sitting in the room today, what advice would I give 15 year old me?
— T.