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As it’s the final term of our prefect duties and you’ve heard the ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ speech about 17 times before, I’d like to approach this a little differently…
So, ‘perfectly imperfect’. By now I’m sure you all have so many different understandings of what this means. And hopefully, if we’ve done our job, you have managed to accept the ‘perfectly imperfect’ inside you. But in case you’re still not convinced, let’s use me as the example.
So, Year 7 Mercy thought getting to class late - and by ‘late’ I mean on time - wasn’t even a possibility. She also thought that walking four in a row across the bridge, and better still, walking slowing in that group of four, was a good idea. See, the idea of how to be ‘perfect’ is what Year 12 Mercy now considers to be slightly frustrating.
Year 8 Mercy, fresh from the first year of Senior School and thinking that the HSC was right around the corner, viewed school a little differently. By now I was well and truly settling into Middle School. I thought the Year 12s were the biggest (and scariest) people ever and my eldest brother was going through the formidable HSC himself. At this age, I was adamant that in Year 12 I would be in a constant self-imposed phone ban – that worked out - and that the only time I would be leaving my house would be for school and sport. Again, and with Year 12 as my witness, very untrue! However, other than being amused at what I used to think the ‘perfect’ HSC student had to be, I find comfort in the fact that my goals have shifted as I have grown, and that this shift isn’t something to regret or be disappointed about. Rather it should be celebrated. I was able to change my goals all by myself, to shape them to be more my own goals, not what I thought they had to be in order to be ‘perfect’.
Year 9 Mercy – she and her friends felt on top of the Middle School kingdom. It was the year that every girl, parent and teacher warned, “Friendships groups will change.” And, “Oh, Year 9? Yeah, your group won’t stay together!” Mum was told that Year 9 was a troubled time for daughters; that this was when the mood swings start to kick in and that they stick around for at least three years. Despite all the warnings about what my year would be like, Year 9 me was determined to be in every sporting thing I could, to join public speaking, leadership roles and to get through the extremely intense camp. All in all, 2016 saw a further change in motivations and with this, I began to attain a learned understanding of the success we can find in failure, of how mistakes are encouraged, and that no two people’s ‘perfect’ will ever be exactly in sync.
Year 10 me – felt like the babies again, though this time in a big girl’s uniform. This year took many turns down good and bad paths, certainly leaving its mark. I realised how close I was getting to the top now. I had my role models, and I was able to distinguish between what I did and didn’t agree with in life. By this stage, I hadn’t quite mastered how far to push the boundaries – particularly when it came to a certain public holiday and seeking parental consent. Shout out to Zoe, Tahlia, Nina and Annabelle! Our seemingly ‘perfect’ cover up that day was the epitome of ‘imperfect’. But, we all learnt from this experience and even after the fallout, we have a story to tell for many years to come.
Year 11 Mercy never saw the huge influx of work coming for her. And I think it’s pretty safe to say, neither did anyone else. The last year of school, a mere three terms away – I couldn’t wait. Now, being here, I think I could have held on a little bit longer. To be completely honest, I think Year 11 saw the peak of my enthusiasm and energy – only going downhill from there on in.
And Year 12 Mercy – she’s the more often than not sleep deprived, severely caffeine induced, becoming more short-sighted every day, soon-to-be adult (who doesn’t know the first thing about being an adult) standing before you. Now, I promise there is a message I hope to convey after the quick wander down memory lane.
Writing this speech and reminiscing about my motivations in life during Years 7, 8 and 9, they were almost laughable. What I thought was good and right, and what I assumed my world would become, is very foreign to me now. As I reflect on it in my final year, going through the high school journey and transforming my perceptions of life is more important than that cliché ‘destination’ – mainly because I do not know what that destination will be. But by acknowledging that my goals and my entire mindset have the ability to flip completely, and that I can and will form different ambitions, proves that nothing can ever be final or completely ‘perfect’. The immutable force of life makes sure of that. But it is through the changes, the rebuilding, the perseverance to which we strive daily that we subconsciously accept this, our ‘perfectly imperfect’ journey.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this speech, it would be that I clearly was not, nor am I now, aware of the criteria in which I should base and form my ambitions on. It is in the appreciation that this criteria will change and change again to shape your ‘perfectly imperfect’ goals. Finally, please understand that I am not telling you not to have dreams, but that I appreciate these will inevitably change as you do. And if you focus too much on just one dream, you may miss all the exciting stuff on the periphery - that ‘stuff’ being life!
Mercy (Year 12)