The Best Years of Your Life

Old Furnace State Park

People say it all the time.  They look at the high-school kid and shake their heads and say "You had better enjoy it. These are the best years of your life."

Who do they think they are kidding?

Would any of us really want to go back to high school?  Oh, I know, we had no bills, no real job, no mortgage. Maybe when people look back they are only remembering the halcyon days of summer where all they did was hang out with their friends and where finding out that the cute boy liked you  was enough to send you into giddy orbit.  I am sure many people (though not me) have happy memories of their high school years.  But really, would you want to be a teenager again?

Just think, you could go back to the uncertainty, the feeling like you have to fit in.  You could worry again about whether that cute boy likes you and then be devastated when he doesn't.  You could go back to thinking that it all really matters, back to not knowing that in the grand scheme of things, none of it is really important.  Because really, that is what is wrong with being a teenager.  Maybe as adults we still worry about some of the same things.  We are still upset when someone doesn't like us.  We still have a nagging feeling that maybe we should try harder to fit in.  We still want to hang out with our friends.  We still want friends.  However, now we have perspective and that makes all the difference.  Teenagers tend to have an all or nothing mindset whereas, we as adults, are able (hopefully) to shrug our shoulders and move on.

As an adult, I am happy to me be.  I like me.  If someone thinks I am too quiet, read too many books, or am strange because I don't like alcohol, I don't really care.  As a teenager, all those things made me boring.  Really, I think if I could be any age I wanted, I would be about 27.  That was a great age.  I felt confident and reasonably sure of myself. Plus, I hadn't had kids yet, so, no stretch marks.

So tell teenagers it gets better.  Tell them high school is hard.  Tell them it is okay to be themselves and that people like them the way they are.  Don't tell them these are the best years of their lives.  It is not true.

And don't tell them about the stretch marks.  Some things are better left to the future.

5 comments

  1. i can 100% guarantee i would never go back to high school. like you, i don't have happy memories from that time.. life is so much better now!

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  2. It's funny that I read this because I was just thinking about something similar the other day. I was Summer if '69 and heard "those were the best days of my life," and I thought "what were the best days of my life?" Nothing stood out. I can remember lots of good times. I can remember dome pretty bad times. But I can't remember any time that was all good or all bad. And that's the way it should be. So, no. I would never tell a teen "these are the best years if your life."

    Another reason not to tell a teen that is you have mo idea what that teen is going through. Your teens are not small, pimply versions of yourself. They are unique people with unique experiences and unique feelings. They could be great. Or life really could be as bad as they make it sound. Always listen. You'd be surprised what you learn. (I say this as someone who volunteers at a crisis hotline for teens. Their feelings are real, and they are valid.)

    Not sure why I felt like typing that little essay from my phone on to your blog. You just made me think, I guess. And now I've made my hand hurt, do I'm going to sleep,

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    Replies
    1. I like what you said about teenager's feelings being real and valid. So often people lump teenagers into one group as if they all think and feel and react the same. That is so not fair. Life is good and bad for them just as it is for us. And I think letting them know that we understand this makes them more likely to be able to deal with the bad instead of thinking it is something that is only happening to them personally.

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