‘High school will be the best years of your life.’
We’ve heard it before- from parents who wish for days when they didn’t have the responsibility of an ‘adult’ life weighing on their shoulders, from 20-somethings who are facing a uni experience that doesn’t live up to their expectations and from teachers who tell us that we will never see this much freedom again: ‘high school will be the best years if your life’.
And to an extent they’re right. We don’t have bills and a ‘real’ job and a mortgage to pay off. We don’t have crumbling marriages or three kids to support on a single income.
But sometimes, someone will tell you your teenage years are the best of your life and you will know it’s not true. Because for some of us, our teenage years aren’t filled with laughing fits, summer days and road trips to the beach. There’s no slumping on a friend’s couch after a long day at school. Instead it’s trudging home from school on your own and spending the night in your room wondering if this is as good as it gets. It’s procrastinating so hard that you spend the night stress-crying and frantically typing. It’s looking at your phone and knowing you won’t have a text asking if you want to hang out. It’s spending recess and lunch looking at the ‘cool’ kids and wondering if they’re as happy as they seem. It’s hours spent lying in bed, staring at the ceiling and telling yourself it has to get better when high school is over.
For some of us, high school is stumbling over words and struggling to make friends. It’s rumours and dirty looks and never quite fitting it. It’s feeling lonely in a group of people because none of them get you. It’s missing out on parties that everyone talks about because no one wanted to invite you.
High school is not for the weak. Some of us come out the other side more bruised and battered than others.
But trust me- you will come out the other side.
Some of us look at our teenage years with rose-tinted glasses and tell ourselves we had the time of our lives. We romanticise summer days and time spent with our best friends.
We forget about the countless exams and the pressure to perform that’s lumped on us from Term 1 of Year 12. We forget about how our teachers told us that these grades mattered more than anything and how we balanced our future on the results of a couple of assessments. We forget about the tears that came after spending the whole day sitting on our own and wishing for it all to be over.
But some of us don’t forget these moments- we remember the harsh reality. And that’s okay. It’s okay to hate high school and wish for the day when you can walk away and leave it behind. It’s okay to turn your back on the people who never said a nice word to you without a goodbye. It’s okay to never want to step foot in your old classrooms again, or never feel like you wish you were back there.
It’s okay if your teenage years are not what you are told they should be.
Remember this- you will be an adult far longer than you will be a teenager and you have so many more years ahead of you; so much time to try new things and experience the world. The high school bubble doesn’t have to reflect the rest of your life and you do not have to be the same person you were at 15, 16 or 17. You will change and find new people- people who remind you what it’s like to feel excited about waking up in the morning. You will fall in love with new places and amazing people; will experience things that high school you could have never seen coming. You will realise that your high school days were just a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things and the best years of your life are yet to come.