As the 2021 school year was coming to an end, Mrs Anna Owen, Canberra Girls Grammar School’s 15th Principal, reflected on her time here at the last School assemblies and had some words of wisdom for the students.
“As we move towards the end of this term, the end of my time here, I increasingly think to myself – what on earth have I done? Do you know how rare it is to work and live in a community in which you feel welcome?”
She told the students: “Google ‘bosses from hell’ or ‘how to leave a job I hate’ and pages of advice comes up. Google ‘how do you leave a job you love’ – and nothing – the internet offers no advice.
“It’s hard to leave because of this community, the staff, the teachers and of course YOU the students – those I spend lots of time with and others who I see from afar, but you are known to me. Nothing lasts forever and my time here has come to an end,” she said.
“People are in awe of what it is that you achieve, and most compelling is that you are in awe of each other. I am never more proud as when I hear you cheering and supporting one other. Remember those who walk beside you, your teachers, professional staff, families and friends as like everything we seek to achieve in our lives, it is always a team effort, one way or another.
“Everyone is fragile, everyone is fraught, and we’re all fighting the voices in our heads. All this in a context where women are required to be strong, powerful and pretty,” she said.
“I was recently asked what’s the one bit of advice I would give the young Anna just prior to starting school. The answer is easy….take care of your relationships, and everything else takes care of itself.”
She added: “No life is easy, no life is able to be completely controlled nor predicted, but you can shield yourself from unnecessary pain and suffering if you learn to manage people and your relationships – in work and in life.
“Find your inner hippie. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as it first seems.
“This too shall pass. The hardest and most difficult experiences, if you persevere and remain true, are often your defining moments.
“When it comes to love, take your time and choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90% of all your happiness or misery.”
She then shared some tips:
“Enjoy life while you’re young and still have your abs and your knees. And treat your body well because you will have it for 100 years.
“Listen to your elders because they are literally channelling the voice of your future or doom.
“Be politically and financially savvy.
“Know the difference between finding a job you love and finding a purpose that becomes your job.
“Stop comparing yourself to others.
“Have a firm handshake. Always accept an outstretched hand. Look people in the eye.
“Own a great stereo system.
“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
“Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the caller’s.
“Be a good loser. Be a good winner.
“Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of their job.”
Mrs Owen then reflected on how “you get a strange feeling when you leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people, but you will miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.
“As I bid you farewell, I hope and I believe strongly that yours are lives that are more promising and more fulfilling because of what you will give, not what you will take.
“Never forget you have all of these people supporting you and never forget where you came from.
“I recently reread my first speech at CGGS as I remember pledging to you.
“Pledge 1: I am going to harden up and get out of bed every morning and get some air and exercise regardless of the dark, cold and despite the scary things that I imagine are in the bushes. There’s a pile of rocks on top of Red Hill that will always be mine.
“Pledge 2: I am going to try to be there for you. At times I will say no, at times we will laugh, at times I will be amazed by you, but I am going to be there with you or working behind the scenes for you. I know I have done some helpful things since being at CGGS, hopefully enough, and I know I could only do this because you have done the same for me.
Mrs Owen concluded: “Remember 80% of the success in any life (job) is based on your ability to deal with people. And remember, take care of your relationships and everything else will take care of itself.
“In this final whole school assembly for 2021, I wish you a safe and happy holiday and I wish you well.
“See you on the internet! Owen Out.”