Best years aren't here yet
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 21:09
“These are the best years of your life.” How many times have we heard this tired, old saying from well-meaning adults trying to change our perspective on life?
Most of the time it is said to keep us from stressing or complaining too much and to get us to realize and enjoy our unique position of being “carefree” while it lasts.
When I was a kid growing up, I had this said to me in a lot of different places by my parents, grandparents and schoolteachers.
But instead of inspiring me to enjoy the years of my childish youth, it had the opposite effect.
Whenever I heard it, I would think about the days and years that have already passed. Then I would start counting the years I have left and almost panic when I realize that I won’t even be out of school before they are all gone.
The average life expectancy for a male American is about 76 years, which means that I will have spent somewhere between the first third or fourth of my life in school.
If the early years of my life are all about preparing for the “real world,” I’d rather hear about how awesome adulthood is going to be rather than how it’s pretty much all downhill after college.
Now, I get where those who tell us young people about these “best years” are coming from.
After a certain age, we are no longer under the care of our parents, but rather have to provide for ourselves and our own family. We have to worry about money, bills, and a boss to answer to, which can cause a lot of stress.
But how about instead of reminding us that our childhood years are the best years, tell us something that will inspire us to look forward to growing up.
Tell us about how excited you were to have your first real job and that even though you lived in a small, crummy apartment, it felt great to be out on your own.
Tell us how thrilling the married life can be and how nothing can compare to the emotions you felt while holding your first, newborn child.
I am writing this as a 22-year-old college senior. Most would consider me to be an adult, but I feel, in a lot of ways, that I can and still do identify with the kids of my generation and with those up and coming that are being told their pre-adult years are the best years of their lives.
It is no wonder so many college graduates still live with their parents in their childhood rooms, nostalgic for a time long gone.
It is OK to tell kids about how awesome their childhood freedom is and how, one day, when they are stressed out at work that these are the very days that they will look back on. But don’t stop there.
We know life is hard. For some, it is a lot harder than others, and childhood might not hold such good memories.
So tell us that even though life is hard, it is worth it; that tough experiences make us stronger and smarter. Don’t tell us that these are the best years of our lives, but remind us that the best is yet to come.