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There is an offensive amount of pressure placed on achieving success in year 12. Be it from your parents, teachers or (hardest of all) yourself, it can feel like your entire life hinges on a score that you honest to god won’t give a crap about in a few years time. Why? Oh, probably because you’ll wake up and smell the roses that there are literally endless ways to get to where you wanna be going.

But we’ve been where you are, folks. We know that telling you everything’s going to be all gravy is a rather pointless exercise – something that’s just as nonsensical as expressing that you’re sad, and having a friend console you by saying, “Don’t be sad”. So, rather than clutch at emotional straws, we reached out to a few successful Aussies who are living proof that you’re life ain’t over in the slightest if you botched your final year.

Hopefully their experiences will light the fire under your ass needed for y’all to wipe away the sensation of “what am I doing with my existence” and get cracking on #killingit.

First cab off the rank is Alexandra Tselios. She’s the Founder & CEO of The Big Smoke (whose entrepreneurialism has been recognised by Business Insider), a Media Commentator for ABC News 24, ABC radio, Triple M, 2GB, 2UE, MixFM, 4CC, 4KQ + contributor for CEO Magazine, The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Mumbrella and AdNews. Oh, and she’s even the bloody Board Director of Plus61J, a think tank exploring Israeli politics. All-in-all, not someone you would expect to have had a rough run of it in high school.

I didn’t do my HSC; I didn’t think education was that important when I was at school. Then I hit 21 and realised how important it was to feel some sense of control over what I was doing. I ended up doing my master’s of business administration, then started my juris doctor in law. I ended up becoming a bit more educated than a lot of the people that completed their HSC and I didn’t need to complete my HSC or have those marks to pick education at a later date.

I didn’t start as a completely driven person, but I’ve always been very ambitious. I was very entrepreneurial as a kid, in that I was always coming up with business ideas and selling stuff. I started my company, The Big Smoke in 2013, out of a need to have an online platform where ideas and opinions could be shared by a variety of people, not just journalists.

Despite not finishing high school, I love education. When I finished my MBA, I did a course in Russian literature. I don’t have an issue with staying focused. I also don’t have an issue with motivation; if I’ve got only an extra hour a day, I’ll spend that hour learning.

Richard Bowles shares a similar experience. He’s a 5X world-record-holding endurance adventurer and educator who speaks at conferences and builds development programs for leaders. Bowles partners with Australia’s top faculties and psychological experts, creating scientifically proven straightforward and practical strategies that help leaders lean into the challenges of the modern business landscape.

I struggled so much at school; I think it was a combination of my father leaving when I was ten years old the fact that I was illiterate. I was separated from my friends and put into the “learning needs” classes and took after-school classes for basic reading, spelling and grammar. To date, I still struggle with the simple timetables.

That hasn’t stopped me from doing well in my working life. What I have learnt that any success you want, has more to do with your ability to persevere that it does about any skill, intellect or talent you may have. Not that those things are not necessary, it’s just without the ability to continually persist all those skills and knowledge will only ever get you so far.

Persistence is something Stephanie Campanella knows all too well. She’s the founder of Summit Digital, a digital marketing agency who’s helping drive leads on the daily for folks like RayWhite and redkite.

I was given a Star on my HSC exam because I did so poorly.

I was horrible at school – it wasn’t for me. I was great with making friends, and awesome at drama and design tech, but when it came to everything else I sucked.

I still can’t spell or add up, but I run a very profitable business and have the freedom to do what I like every day. I may be the most successful person in my grade and they too are all probably shocked at my after-school activities.

And look, showing off your success at a reunion down the line shouldn’t be your main motivator in life, but if it’s just a byproduct of you slaying it out there, then so be it.

Speaking of slaying it, we hope that these stories have made you feel a tad better if you’re concerned about your future. There are an unimaginable amount of ways to get you geared up for career domination, so don’t fret for a second.

Keen to explore your options? Check out RMIT University‘s vocational education pathways HERE.

Image: Universal / 30 Rock