Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Port Macquarie News editor Tracey Fairhurst.
Thirteen years, thousands of hours of learning, dozens of late nights and anxious study sessions, more than a few tears, six big exams and one final mark.
Thousands of year 12 students across the country received their Higher School Certificate or their state or territory equivalent exam marks recently.
It's the final chapter to a story many have been told (or sold) is the single most important defining factor of their school journey.
This one mark will be your measure of success and will define what happens next.
But guess what kids - it doesn't.
What you should be celebrating is the fact that you made it. All that you've learned up until now - the success, and more importantly, the failures - have helped prepare you for what comes next ... life.
One mark is not a measure of success. It's how you got there and what you have learned about yourself along the way.
Hard work, determination, resilience and self-reflection will all serve you well into adulthood.
But know that whatever you choose to do, and whenever you choose to do it, this mark will ultimately be of little significance.
Vera Demertzis explained it perfectly in the Southern Highland News. She wrote: "Don't let numbers on a piece of paper determine your future because the future can change and you might change your mind like I did.
"And if you didn't get the ATAR that you wanted, that's okay.
"Life is full of unexpected turn of events and what seemed like a disappointment could be a blessing in disguise."
What is enduring is how kind you are, what you can give back and if at all possible, your ability to make life better for someone other than yourself.
Acknowledge that number, but do it with perspective.
Embrace opportunity, live with humanity and never stop learning.
Tracey Fairhurst, editor, Port Macquarie News
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