Monday, 18 November 2013

Schoolies or foolies?

This week marks the end of school for hopefully the majority of VCE students across Victoria. It also marks the beginning of schoolies week across the country. 

Schoolies week is traditionally a week for secondary school graduates to go away for a week with their mates. Under the pretence of being a symbol of freedom, that is breaking away from school, rules and exams in order to become an adult, it is no more than a week of lawless binge drinking and promiscuous activity. 
Various surveys have concluded that the high majority of all schoolies attendees admit to being drunk from anywhere between 50-75% of the week (depending on males and females). Violence naturally increases with an influx of drunk adolescents and there have been numerous deaths. 

Embarrassingly, I can relate to these "adults". While I didn't attend schoolies back in my day, I certainly had my fair share of binge trips. Two trips to Thailand and trips to Vietnam and Laos as well as a week in Perth in my early to mid twenties,  and I didn't act much differently to today's schoolies. My mates and I loved a beer or twenty and I recall one trip to Thailand where I think we drank heavily for roughly 25 of the 30 nights we were away. Whilst I never got myself into any serious trouble, I certainly increased the risk. 

Now that I am old and wise (it seems when I hit 30, three or four beers now put me to sleep), I really can't stand the thought of a 4-6am night, and a day hating life on the couch the following day. I find it interesting though that it took the majority of my twenties to get to this point. While I don't agree with the schoolies concept, I must admit it is what I would have done at 18 years of age. 

The question that I can't answer is therefore: how do we get today's 18-25 year olds to grow up faster? Whilst I had a heap of fun during these years, I look back on them and regret the wastefulness. I did the same thing over and over and over every Friday and Saturday night. I shudder at the thought of how much money I spent on nights out. I never saved a cent until I decided to pop the question to my wife and needed a fancy ring. If it wasn't for her being sensible during her twenties and saving to buy our house, we'd be renting through a real struggle to purchase our first home. 

While many people will tell you that repetitive binge drinking and socialising during these years is living your youth and is part of growing up, I disagree. In my opinion, going down to the coast with my mates and having pleasant, fun nights with them, watching the cricket and having a few at the pub afterward is just as appealing as spending money on flights, nightclub entrance fees and round after round of tequila shots. 

It seems that the 'me' generation is always looking to push the social calendar into more extravagant boundaries. Whatever the norm is, it's never enough. They need to pursue the next big adventure. For example, a standard bucks night in Melbourne is no longer adequate for many. They now choose to have week long bucks parties in Vegas. My bucks day was spent on a boat in Port Phillip Bay and a couple of pubs in Richmond with my good mates. It ranks as one of the best nights I've ever had. 

I wish when I was in my late teens or early twenties I had the mentality I have now. While I still would have had a heap of fun, I wouldn't have wasted roughly eight years of my life on un-gratifying selfishness. 

We live and learn. As they say in the classics, "hindsight is a wonderful thing". I just hope every single person that attends schoolies next week gets the opportunity to look back in hindsight and wonder whether they should have done it differently. 

All the best,
Dom Meese

*Photo courtesy of Olivia Lam on Flickr


  1. Hi Dom,
    Only me. Great post!!:) If you didn't know, on schoolies week a 16 year old got bashed in the head by two teenagers. It also happened to a 17 year old. Craaaaazy. I'm surprised they don't ban it. That is because of all the safety rules and everything. Awesome post!!:D

  2. Thanks Tess! Yes I saw that on the news. It highlights my point about having thousands of 17 and 18 year olds in one location filled to the brim with alcohol. I don't think you could ban schoolies as kids will still go away on holidays in groups and just claim it is a normal holiday. The issue is more about how we can get kids to have a different outlook on drinking.