Last week, my thirteen year-old cousin came over to ask me for advice around choosing high-school extra-murals. I, obviously, wanted to give her the advice I never had, like “Do these because then you’ll make more friends and I regret not doing this, so you should do it.” However, the two of us are completely different. What I loved she could very well hate. I realised this as I was going on and on about how she must try all the things I wish I had done.
In the end, the best thing she could do would be ignore all my well-intentioned advice and, instead, choose the activities she has an interest in. Nowadays, there are so many different extracurriculars to choose from which makes the choice all the more difficult. There’s also always someone, a friend or family member, who has their heart set on the new high-schooler doing some extramural so that they can live vicariously through that. Often, new students also don’t have much of an idea of what each pastime actually entails, so they end up listening to the advice everyone else gives.
I’m of the opinion that the after school activities teach just as much as the actual school lessons. True teamwork comes from having to run around a sports field with a group of girls, all with the same objective in mind, all exerting themselves until they are exhausted and then more. The bonds you form with those people who have physically gone through exactly what you are going through cannot be paralleled because these are bonds formed from true understanding. There are lessons to be learned from debating and public speaking – not only how to speak in public but how to have courage in your convictions, in what you say, so much so that you can express it aloud. I learnt analysis of logic itself, how to engage thoughtfully with current affairs, how to construct an argument with airtight links from debating, and these are, I think, so much more important than facts we commit to memory for class. The life skills we learn in school really come from the extracurriculars, and each one has something completely different but equally relevant to offer.
So we’ve ascertained that these activities are not trivial or just for fun, and that makes the choice between them so much more difficult. Parents worry about what their child commits to and often get involved in that choice.
I believe that children shouldn’t listen to anyone’s enthusiastic advocation for one activity or subject, but rather choose exactly what they themselves enjoy the most. One can only commit fully to and therefore gain the most from an activity that one truly enjoy. No matter which course you take, you have to learn things in high school, all kinds of things.
If you try everything and continue with the things that give you, not your parents, uncles, cousins, but you, a buzz. You won’t have any regrets.