When I was in high school it felt like everyone was always telling me to enjoy it now because “these are the best years of your life!” I always hated hearing that. It made me angry and left me feeling frustrated. They were miserable and I couldn’t wait for the day we finally graduated and I didn’t have to deal with high school angst again. A lot of years have passed since then and I still don’t miss it. I moved away, didn’t attend my reunion and don’t keep in touch with most of the people that went to high school with me. I understand that the intention behind those words is to remind high school kids to “Carpe Diem” (seize the day) and to enjoy the moments without bills and responsibilities. I get it, but high school days didn’t even come a little bit close to being the best days.
In fact, they were quite miserable.
Even now I don’t like hearing people tell high school kids that those days are the best days of their lives because for a lot of kids they aren’t. If I had believed it then and really thought that I didn’t have anything to look forward to post-high school I could have seen myself becoming a statistic of yet another live cut too short. It’s sad, but true.
It’s important that we teach children, high-schoolers, 20-somethings, that these years may not be the best years of their lives, that our years are full of what we make them, and that ever year has the potential to become better than the year before it.
I did wonder if maybe I was alone in my thinking.
I thought, “Maybe I am the only one who hated high school. Maybe for everyone else those really were the best years of their lives.” I didn’t think that was the case but there was part of me that did say, “Maybe.”
I put the question out to my community on Facebook. I asked them, “Are these the best years of your life? What years would you say were/are the best years of your life?” I appreciated their insight and almost everyone that responded said their 20’s or 30’s although there were a few that said 40’s and a few that said 50’s. There were even a few people who responded with “right now!” as they embraced their current season of life.
There was not a single person that said high school.
When I asked why they responded the way they did I was given the following responses:
- The best years of my life were when I finally got the autonomy to live my life the way I wanted to live it.
- When I discovered who I really was and stopped trying to conform.
- When I stopped caring about being popular and started caring about being me.
- Once I built my own family.
- My best years are the years since I’ve become a parent.
The best years of my life have been these years, my late 20’s and my early 30’s. I’ve really discovered who I am as a person, as a friend and as a wife. I’ve accepted my passions and my talents. I’ve found confidence in my skills and my appearance. I feel self-assured for the first time in my life. I’m not living up to crazy standards and I’m not comparing myself to others.
I’ve accepted myself for myself and that’s a beautiful way to live.
High school wasn’t great. My early 20’s weren’t great either. My late 20’s and early 30’s have been incredible. Can I say that these are the best years of my life? I don’t know. I haven’t lived my other years yet but I know they are the best years so far and that’s important to both realize and to accept.
A few of my favorite quotes about age?
- There is always some specific moment when we realize our youth is gone; but years after, we know it was much later. ~Mignon McLaughlin
- My wrinkles are a playground of happy memories. ~Terri Guillemets
- Sometimes it takes years to really grasp what has happened to your life. ~Wilma Rudolph
My point is – don’t stress if these aren’t the best years of your life and don’t worry if you haven’t had your best years yet.
Your best years might be in the years to come.