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Why Everything Before College Sucked

There’s often a debate over when the “best years” of somebody’s life are. Some people are adamant that it’s the lack of responsibility and thrill of not having the responsibilities of an adult that comes with high school; others swear the endless partying and ability to “find yourself” in college creates your best years; and still, some people believe that the good life doesn’t start until schooling is over.

When I was in high school, I used to feel a mix of fear and panic whenever somebody would swear life doesn’t get better than it is in high school. People would argue that once you graduate high school and enter the “real world,” then the threat of responsibilities, demanding school work, serious jobs and having to make your own decisions could weigh down on you, and therefore the “best years” of your life are over.

For me, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

Photo courtesy of holdosi on Pixabay

The “best years” of my life were definitely not high school. I’m only halfway through my undergraduate degree, but the “best years” began maybe the third day I was on campus. I found that the increase of responsibility that comes with college also leads to autonomy, freedom and independence – all things that were missing before college.

Before college, a lot of my life was dictated by other people. Where I went, who I went with, what I ate, where I slept, what I wore, how I should feel about things – everything from the most trivial to the most major things. Once I started college, I gained the autonomy to do the things that I wanted to do. Even though there is an increase in responsibilities, there’s also an increase in freedom. Although I have to do so much more in order to take care of myself, I can do it in any way that I want to. I have to take classes, but I can choose when I want to take them; I can choose if I’m too sick to go, or need a mental health day, or if I should catch up on sleep instead. In earlier years, many people including myself weren’t allowed to make any of those decisions without the guidance of parents or school counselors.

But really, college meant that I was able to leave a life that I wasn’t happy with in my hometown. People like me who didn’t like their hometown, high school or anything it brought them, college acted as an escape for us. And I felt there was a lot to escape from. I didn’t know how to deal with a boring and lifeless hometown, or a high school that had a myriad of problems and rules. I didn’t know how to deal with interpersonal relationships with people I wasn’t sure how to get away from, such as an emotionally abusive relationship or toxic friends. I didn’t know how to deal with the lack of control I felt with a turbulent home life. College was a clean slate, a way to get away from all of these things.

College can be the force that changes a lot of things in our lives. Once I was able to make my own decisions and live life how I wanted and where I wanted, things became a lot better. There is a lot of emotional and character growth in college, happening both in me and in those around me. I was able to grow up, mature and learn how to handle problems. On my own terms.  

Photo courtesy of jill111 on Pixabay

Of course, everybody is going to have a different life experience. I’m happy for all of the people that had amazing high school lives that have transferred into a hopefully even better college experience. And sometimes, college won’t be able to offer the same amount of freedom and control and happiness, depending on somebody’s circumstances.

For those like me who have suffered during high school and wanted to be able to break free from terrible high school days, college has been fantastic. I’ll take personal responsibility, independence, and freedom over a home-cooked meal, any day (although I do miss my mother’s mashed potatoes).

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