When I was a teen I heard this phrase over and over: “These are the best years of your life, enjoy them.”
I remember thinking, What? This is as good as it gets? No thank you.
I felt like there was so much out there to explore and conquer, and I was right. My teen years were fine, but the world is so much bigger and we need to tell our children all there is to look forward to.
I still hear that same phrase today, and when people say it to my kids I cringe. It’s my job as their parent to set them straight about all they have ahead. In no way were my high school years even close to being the best years of my life.
Every stage of your life have highlights as well as trials and tribulations. And I don’t feel you can stick a block of time in a box and claim it as your best– just because you are too young to have a full-time job, pay the bills, and have adult responsibilities, that does not equal happiness.
Knowing who you are equals happiness. Falling in love and sharing your life with someone equals happiness. Conquering fears and growing from mistakes equals happiness. It’s as if we are sending the message as soon as you get out in the real world things are going to go downhill really fast—how discouraging is that?
Teens years are hard, even harder than when I was a teenager in the ’80s and ’90s. There is so much more pressure on our kids. They never get a break from seeing what everyone else is doing with social media. This leaves them feeling less- than and like they are missing out on something constantly, not to mention academic and sports pressures.
There is something to be said for your glory days as a young adult, yes, but let’s stop saying they are the best years of our lives. There are pieces that will be great but for most people, life gets so much better when you’re older.
I constantly tell my kids there’s so much to look forward to. Their future is wide open and they have the opportunity to make their life into whatever they want.
I encourage them to not believe that just because they aren’t paying a mortgage, taxes, and aren’t responsible for children, it doesn’t mean a better quality of life.
In these years ahead they could land their dream job, they might be in their 40s when they decide to travel around the world. They have new friends and lovers to meet. They might decide they are more fulfilled than ever before by dedicating their life to helping others.
High school years are fun and full of wonderful moments and ever lasting memories. But I’ve found as I’ve gotten older the years just keep getting better
I know most teens may look at a 42-year- old woman and wonder how that can be as I pull on my pajamas at 4pm and settle in for the evening while they are getting ready for a fun night out. I used to think the same thing.
But as we age and go through different experiences, we learn what makes us happy, and what we will and won’t put up with. We get to know ourselves in a way I don’t think is possible when we are in high school—those years are just the beginning of finding out who you are.
If memory serves, I remember the high school years being full of angst, acne, and wishing I had more responsibility. I couldn’t wait to bust out on my own and when I did, I wasn’t disappointed at all. I don’t think our kids will be either.
Our teens will be many different people before they settle into their best selves. And it’s more than fine to let them know life might be easier as a teen than when you are out on your own, but easier doesn’t equal better.