“These are the best years of your life!”
Am I the only one who is slightly offended whenever people say that? It puts too much pressure on a person. Excuse me sir, I understand that you’re trying to be helpful, but how exactly do you know what the best years of my life are? I don’t even know what the best years of my life are! I have been told “these are the best years of your life” at every stage of my life. So how does that work exactly? If these are indeed the best years of my life, does that mean everything after this is all downhill? Awesome.
“Your high school years are some of the best years of your life.” Um, I’d like to call BS. I was very fortunate to make it through high school relatively unscathed and undamaged. With all the reports of bullying and school shootings these days, I feel like I went to high school in a completely different era, and era where kids were well adjusted and nice to each other.
I had a great group of friends in high school. We all got along, and were able to toe the line of misbehaving without ever falling too squarely on one side or the other. I played sports (and won a state championship-shout out volleyball) and was involved in student council, but they were well balanced so I was never too much nerd or too much jock. I got along very well with my parents-which is odd, I know. But I went through my “rebellious stage” in middle school, so by high school I was a perfect angel in my parent’s eyes.
High school was certainly good to me, there’s no denying it. Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely drama and heartbreak…it wouldn’t have been high school if there were no stupid fights or public breakups! All in all though, they were pretty good years, and I was definitely sad to see them go. I was so comfortable in high school. I knew everyone, everyone knew me. I had my parents for backup and support. I had spent 18 years cultivating friendships with people in my hometown. I was convinced that I could never make as good of friends in the short 4 years I’d spend in college.
However even when we were all tearfully saying goodbye before taking off to our colleges, and signing each other’s years books (my senior year our year book was coincidentally a Green Day “Time of Your Life” theme-cheese factor anyone?), I knew that even though I did enjoy high school, there was no way these were the best years of my life. (Plus I had a bunch of friends who were already in college and they confirmed for me that it got wayyyy better)
“College, those are the fastest, and best 4 years of your life.” Ehh, I half agree. They were certainly the fastest 4 years of my life-they flew by in a haze of studying, drinking and dancing, and friends. But were they really the “best years of my life”? At the time I thought so.
I loved my school (Trinity College, Hartford, CT), enjoyed all of my classes (was an English major), and had incredible friends. I played Volleyball, club lax, and rode for the equestrian team. I revealed in the freedom of living on my own (with my roommates), and even though I was still financially dependent upon my parents, I felt so mature and grown up. There was nobody there to tell me what I could/couldn’t do, where/where not to go. And there were theme parties. Parties whose sole function was for you to get dressed up in crazy costumes, drink, and dance. Those were the best.
Then, college came to an end. The 4 years that were supposed to be the “best four years of my life”. And I had a panic attack. Wait a second!? EVERYONE says that college is the “best years of your life!” Crap! Did I really take advantage of that? Did I make the very best of the best years of my life? I was convinced I hadn’t and tried to demand a do-over. I was convinced that I had nothing left to live for, that life really was all about parties and drinking. I saw my life stretched before me, sure that I was going to be doomed to a soulless existence at 9-5 corporate job where no one knew my name and I made no difference in the world.
Ya, it was a pretty intense panic attack. But as I was tearfully packing up my dorm room one final time I thought to myself, this can’t be it? Can it? Will my life really never get any better than the 4 years I spent here (even though they were an awesome 4 years)? And I knew that even though I was entering the “real world” and my care-free time at college was over, that they weren’t the best years of my life. I found that with myself and my friends, that as college drew to a close, we found ourselves a bit “over it”. The getting dressed up in togas and playing drinking games to see who could get drunk the fastest got exhausting. We loved college, but we were ready for more.
“Your 20’s are the best years of your life”. Well, I’m still in my 20’s so I can’t exactly look back at this one and say “yay” or “nay”. But so far, I am loving them. I have a job at a wonderful company filled with amazing people (and dogs) that I love, and while I’m not doing what I envisioned myself doing (writing/and or teaching/playing a spy on a nationally syndicated television show), for the time being, I am happy where I am. I have a beautiful apartment with my own bathroom and parking (really what more can you ask for from an apartment?) and the best roommate/boyfriend in the world. I don’t have a puppy/kitty/pony but I do have Frederick and Zumi who I adore. I have my new friends and my old friends, and my family nearby. All the things I thought I would hate about my 20’s- grocery shopping, working, cleaning my apartment, etc.- I find myself loving more and more.
Are my 20’s the “best years of my life”? Who knows? I really think that question can only be answered at the end of your life. For now I have to continue hoping that my life will continue to get better and better with each stage, and yes-age (ya I know, lame rhyme, get over it).
I’m almost a little sad for people who haven’t reached the end of their lives and can staunchly declare that “XXXX years were the best years of my life!” Because really, what does that mean? Do you have nothing left to look forward to? Why bother getting out of bed then?
For all of you who are at a stage in your life (you know who you are) where people are continually telling you “these are the best years of your life”, whether that be in high school, college, your 20’s, 30’s , 40’s and so on- don’t listen to them. You don’t have to feel like this is absolutely the best it’s ever going to get. That is a lot of pressure for someone! Just because college was the best time of someone’s life, doesn’t mean it has to be yours. So you didn’t absolutely love everything about your time in college? That’s ok. There’s always room for improvement.
I look back on all the “best years of my life” and realize how fortune and lucky I have been thus far. And I am so excited for the things to come. Even though I am freaking out about turning 25 (ew) I am also looking forward to the new adventures and responsibilities I will have in the future. So for those of you stuck in “the best years of your life,” take it from me (and Brad Paisley), these are nowhere near the best years of your life.
Thanks for reading (and dealing with this little rant!) xo Whitney