The ray of sun that cuts through glass as one looks out the window. That is the feeling I get when I wake up happy. I am caressed by floating white sheets, and the delight in the chirrup of birds and cooling air from my open window. The beam spreads through my chest, filling me; eyes closed, my heart slows, I breathe, I think. I am happy.
And then the routine of life becomes so familiar, I don’t think. Sunday to Monday to Friday to Saturday. Days merge because all I’m living for is the weekend. I don’t notice how muffled the sunshine has become, how heavy my sheets are, how painful the sharp trill of birds is. Until I wake up on Sunday and before I even get the chance to think I feel a hole. A hole just behind and slightly left of my breastbone. The hole hurts, it is the kitchen sink once the plug has been taken out. Sucking, sucking, sucking me away.
One of the hardest experiences I faced throughout my high school career was depression. As I tumbled through an endless cycle of school, social events, sports and debating, I found myself looking forward to life instead of living it. It was much easier to push away feelings of emptiness when I had a Science test for which to study, or a debating speech to give.
However, realising the extraordinary opportunities Roedean had to give me, I made an important decision. I decided to do things, despite my disease, not because of it. By engaging with remarkable young women from all walks of life, I have learned so much about myself, and have found inspiration in the achievements of others. It is these relationships that will stay with me and grow in with me, as I move onto the next phase of my life, where I hope to change the lives of others.
I have so many memorable moments from the last four years. Making the South African A Debating team and representing our country In Prague this year was amazing. I discovered how enriching relationships that go beyond my everyday experience can be, and was reminded of my interest in improving South Africa’s education system so that other speakers can have access to the same opportunities I have enjoyed. Being a part of a team of Roedean and Roedean Academy girls who won a National Drone Competition in 2016 taught me about teamwork and friendship, and was very rewarding.
Those who know me will confirm that I was involved in far too many extra-murals. Diving and ballet gave me a space in which to meet girls with whom I’ll be friends for life; debating expanded my mind beyond anything my grade-eight self would have imagined; and doing the President’s Award strengthened my resilience and understanding of life. Of course, though, my favourite part of high school has always been school plays. Being a member of the cast every year since Grade eight gave me a means of escaping the difficulties that came with depression. Interestingly, while allowing me a moment to be my true self under the guise of someone else, it also helped me come to terms with my mental health. I have accepted that, as a part of myself, this need not diminish my achievements.
It would be easy for me to wander through life without interacting with emotional pain, but that approach would diminish my depth and ability to appreciate every facet of my life, the good and the bad. What is important to remember is that life always finds a way back to us. As human beings, our craving for happiness is likely to win out.
And so, in the final stages of my twelve packed years of education, Roedean has taught me three big things. Reluctantly, I realised that the smartest way to be lazy is to do it now. Slightly ashamedly, I noticed that I understood the concept of enlightened self-interest only when I recognised it in the subject of my prayers. My most exciting, and unnerving realisation, however, is that I have only just scratched the surface of what my life will be. Thank you to my family, and my Roedean family, for enabling me to learn beyond the classroom.