If you're not yet twenty years old--or remember when you were--I bet someone somewhere said something like this to you: These are the best days of your life. They generally delivered it with an "enjoy it while you can" or "wish I had it as easy as you" implication. The real message was to quit complaining, because your little youthful troubles were nothing compared to the horrible adult troubles they had, and soon enough you were going to know for yourself how bad things really were.
Now, seriously, what kind of message does that send to kids? Are we saying that being a teenager is as good as it ever gets? That everything's pretty much all downhill from there? That high school is the high point of your life? That it sucks to be an adult? What?
I don't know about you, but high school was definitely not the best time of my life. That's the time you have "find yourself" and figure out who you are as individual--and so is everyone else. The process is neither pretty nor pleasant--at least it wasn't for me. Sure, there were plenty of fun times, but the times I was in turmoil or some kind of angst outweighed them by about a thousand to one. It might have been a highly memorable time, but those years were not the high point of my life and I hated it when old people told me they were.
Whenever I hear an adult give that message to a child or teenager, I don't care where it is or who it is, I have to speak up. I generally just joke that I heard that growing up to, but that (wink, wink) it really isn't true, that things actually get better and better when we take charge of our own lives and happiness. The adults generally don't find this amusing, of course, but that's part of it. The message is for them too, because the unpleasant fact is that people who use that phrase are not happy. How can they be? Think about it.
Nostalgia and selective amnesia aside, if those are the best days of their lives then, by definition, the ones they're living now can't be.
So, what are you thinking? Do you often daydream about how great things were in the past? Or wishing things will better in the future? Do you see life as a downhill slide? An uphill battle? An exciting adventure? Whatever you think it is--it is for you--and you will find evidence to support your beliefs.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, weighed down by responsibilities or confused about what you want to do with your life, you might find the child's viewpoint very appealing--being carefree with someone else shouldering responsibility. The same is true for whatever you attach to the teenager years--excitement, adventure, choice, etc. You probably don't literally want to be that age again, you just want the feelings you attach to it--it's what's missing in your life right now.
But here's the deal. You can't rewind to yesterday or fast forward to tomorrow, but you can sure waste a whole lot of time trying to. So, stop it, because here's the irony: Whether you like it or not, these are the best days of your life--whatever your age. Today is the best day of your life because it's the one you're living right now. Make it the best day ever. Do the same with tomorrow.
These are the best days of your life. Live them! Live your joy!