I am currently living in what most people describe as “the best years of your life.” You go off to college. You meet the people you will hang onto forever. You will find your true love. You will find yourself. You will find your calling. You will only have to worry about learning. It is the prequel to the real world.
First off, no. I’m not quite sure if the people who have given this lecture even went to college. Or if they did, not in this day and age. Only need to worry about learning? Freedom and being carefree? The amount of stress I endured to first off pick what field of study I wanted to pursue gave me an anxiety attack. At about 16, I had to determine what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I couldn’t even drive without an adult in the car, but I was trusted to decide that. Yes, we have to worry about learning huge life lessons (don’t mix up dish soap and dish washer detergent EVER) and also our academic studies, but we learn new things everyday. It doesn’t magically stop after you graduate. (Seriously, who even thinks that?)
When I actually went off to college, I was slapped in the face by the reality that I was in fact in charge of my own life. Whether I decided my 16-year-old’s choice was for me or not, I had all this opportunity I could take or leave. I won’t lie: it was exciting and frightening at the same time. But carefree? Hardly. I worked myself to the bone to plan the next four years of my life to figure out if study abroad was going to benefit me compared to holding an executive position in a student organization. Or if I should just change to a business major just like everyone else who decided they needed to be more “realistic.” (Which is STUPID..unless you actually want to be a business major which is awesome WOO HOO GO FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!)
Yes, I have met a lot of people. But I have also lost many. Some people go to college, some don’t. Some people can see their doctorate in the future, and others decide nothing they want to do includes studying 4+ more years. While these are all options that depend on the person, it makes it hard to keep a concrete friend group when everyone is on their own path. Some paths diverge. Robert Frost knew.
And, I should be finding myself? Looking for my calling? I can’t even find my keys half the time, so I don’t think The Real Kim even wants to be found right now with how much of a hot mess Present Kim is.
Prequel to the real world? I’m sorry, but if I have learned anything in the last three years it’s that this has been the real world the whole time. I have been living for 20 years and just because I don’t have a full-time job, don’t live in a cute apartment in the city, and haven’t met my soul mate does not mean I haven’t been living. These years are full of mistakes and bruises and headaches and heartaches and long nights of feeling lost and confused but hopefully accompanied by pizza.
So, no. These aren’t the “best years of my life.” These years are wonderful, but they aren’t the “best.” Each year gets better. I hope when I look back at my life, I don’t think of certain time stamps that made my life worth living (approximately years 19-20 were my best ever, now there is nothing to look forward to), but rather moments that warm my soul. How can one say they’ve already lived their “best years” when we have so much more living to do?