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How to succeed: Do what you love.

How to succeed: Do what you love.

Halfway through year 11, I had a mini-breakdown.

The intense pressure I put myself under to be ‘perfect’ academically became too much and coupled with what turned out to be an iron deficiency, I crumbled.

I blame maths.

I hated maths in year 11. I’d always done well in it up until then, but it didn’t come to me naturally like humanities subjects did.

I had to work hard at it and it stressed me out. Not just a little bit, but an overwhelming lot. I was a mess.

My mini-breakdown made me reassess. I poured over the VTAC guide looking at prerequisite subjects for every university course I was even remotely interested in. Maths wasn’t listed for any of them.

After lots of tears and feelings of guilt and failure, I did something that up until then was very unlike me. I decided to drop maths.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Not only did I drop maths, but in year 12 I decided to only do four subjects (I’d done the fifth in year 11) – all humanities, except for Biology.

My decision received mixed reactions from teachers.

A couple (thank you Mr Barnes and Mr Sweeney) were incredibly supportive. A few others told me I was making a big mistake.

“You know the humanities subjects are all marked down so it’s going to be much harder to get the score you want,” one science teacher told me.

“I think it’s a really bad move,” another said.

But I stood firm.

Instead, I picked subjects I was passionate about. Subjects I loved, like Human Development, Legal Studies and English Literature.

In year 12, I had 10 free periods a week. I used them to work hard so that I wasn’t under as much pressure to study at home.

Year 12 turned out to be the least stressful of my entire high school years. I was a different person.

The change in me was so significant my parents quietly worried (so they told me afterwards) that I’d chosen the most important year to slack off.

I hadn’t. My ENTER score was 97.35.

This was a turning point in my life, not because of the score I achieved, but for the powerful lesson it taught me: Do what you love.

Not what you ‘should’ do. Not what you ‘could’ do.

Do what you’re passionate about.

Do what you love and you’ll try harder; do better; be happier.

Instead of worrying about pleasing other people, I had finally focussed on pleasing myself.

Rather than doing what other people expected of me, I did what was right for me. And it paid off.

My score was well above what I needed for the Journalism degree I wanted to study and some teachers suggested I consider changing courses to Law instead – but I was adamant.

I knew what I loved; I knew what I wanted to do; and so I did it.

The lesson I learnt in those 18 months as a teenager still guides me today.

Do what you love; love what you do.

Pre-mini-breakdown: Sixteen year-old Leah with a wax statue of her hero, Nelson Mandela.


Leah Mether is a communications specialist, professional speaker, and director of Methmac Communications. She works with businesses, organisations and individuals to help them improve and deliver their communications, and step up for success.

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