As I finish up my first year of college and look forward to summer, I just cannot shake the thought that I’ve wasted one of the years that everyone keeps calling the “best years of my life.” This feeling comes around quite often on my birthday as well. I think about how I keep getting older and maybe my best years are slipping out from underneath me.
I don’t know where exactly this feeling comes from. It could be my extensive use of social media where everyone who is over the age of 25 is portrayed as an old maiden, or it could be the number of coming-of-age movies I’ve seen where being a teenager (or just being younger than 20 in general) is illustrated as the best time of your life and it’ll be all downhill from then. Either way, the angst and guilt of feeling like I’m wasting away the prime of my life is something that I still learn to cope with by giving myself a reality check: I am only in college and there is so much life to experience after this.
I think it’s easy to get caught up in this idea that college is everyone’s prime of their lives because there is a never-ending source of people claiming it is. It’s funny because I feel like there is such a fear of peaking in high school but then so many people consider college the prime of their life, yet these stages are only a few years apart. Is it really that much better to feel like you’ve hit your prime at 19 instead of 15?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting college to be a really exciting time in your life, but there’s no need to feel like this is the only time in your life where you can live your life to the fullest. The world doesn’t fall apart after you leave college and there will still be countless opportunities and experiences afterward.
When we’re so focused on making sure that these years are the absolute supreme years of our lives, we forget to cherish the good memories we are making as well. If there is this continuous pressure to make sure every moment of our life is filled with the most extravagant events, moments become less genuine. Our lives shouldn’t be filled with theatrics and the desperation of wanting to seem like we are having the best time of our life at every waking moment. I have found that the most basic moments of my life were when I was having the most fun.
There’s another layer of this issue where people feel like they need to have accomplished an abundance of things before they hit a certain age. There is this passion that a lot of people have where they feel like they need to do something remarkable at a young age in order to be successful or worthy. Again, this just isn’t true.
There is no need to feel like you’re wasting your days away or that you’re getting too old to do something. Find moments of authenticity in your life and notice in what conditions you truly feel happy and feel like yourself. There is so much more life after college. You don’t have to do everything right now, just enjoy the present.