Why the Mentality That Your Teens and Twenties Are Your "Best Years" Can be Toxic

     I have spent a lot of time thinking about college and my future and how I want to enjoy every single second of life. I've created a reputation of being the adventurous friend or the friend that is "down for whatever," because I don't want to look back 20 or 30 years from now and say that "I wish I had done this or that." I have always felt that at this moment I need to do everything I can to really make the most of it. Lately, I've come to realize this feeling stems from something deeper than my need to "live in the moment," but rather my desire to make as many memories as I can before I have to "settle down." 

     Recently one of my best friends deleted all the social media apps from her phone because she felt overwhelmed with the toxic culture surrounding social media. The constant scrolling through images of the lives of people you barely know. That girl you met on a cruise five years ago, who you haven't spoken to since is wrapping up her first semester of college. She seems to be really enjoying it because she posts photos once a week of her smiling with her "college besties." ow you are looking back at your first semester and wondering if you didn't "live" enough, simply because her experiences were not the same as yours. Someone, your age is getting married. Someone else is getting ready to become a parent. Since we aren't doing these things, the feeling that we are behind begins to settle in. Why do we feel this way sometimes? The belief that your late teens and twenties must be filled with constant adventure because they are your "best years," is harmful because it causes people to believe that if they aren't having the "typical" experiences, then they are wasting their life. Can you see the problem with this?

     Life does not have to stop being enjoyable after you turn 30. On the opposite side, people feel the need to do everything they can before they turn 30 because that's when "reality" sets in. I fear that this mentality also facilitates comfortability. People feel that in order to be successful, they must find a job that they are comfortable in before it is too late. Do not settle, out of fear that you are "too old." This way of thinking causes young children to grow up believing that they must have their life "figured out" from a young age. I remember even before I entered junior high, I felt a strong lump in my chest because internally a part of me didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. This feeling continued into high school and is still present now. I felt fearful that I would end up at a job that I didn't enjoy, in a life that I could have never pictured myself in. I was worried that I would not be happy but instead, I would be comfortable. 

     I refuse to live my life with this mentality. I truly believe that every year has the possibility to be your "best" year. It's up to you what you choose to do with it! Don't be afraid of being behind, because everyone moves through life at their own pace!