"The Best Years" Aren't Real And Here's Why

"The Best Years" Aren't Real And Here's Why

To be told that any group of years in your life should be the best few years of your life is kind of a let down.

To be told that any group of years in your life should be the best few years of your life is kind of a let down.

This isn't to say you shouldn't enjoy as much as you can, but it discredits years ahead that could be filled with far better things.

Like high school.

Honestly, high school was somewhat lacking. Maybe I was in that phase that a lot of teenagers get, where no matter where they go, they don't belong. Or just angsty. Either way, high school was not, and never will be the best years of my life. Granted, in some ways, it was definitely easier, but that doesn't make it necessarily good. High school gave almost no homework, even on an AP track, but academically I learned very little. People tend to really suck in high school too, hormones are flying is one excuse, but sometimes people are just really scummy. Other's are trying to learn who they are, and others know who they are and use it to their full advantage. Don't take it to heart, only time will show them who they are and how they got to be who they are.

For example, my hometown is one of those small cities that unless daddy was a big wig or knew someone, chances were you were just a face in the crowd and mostly overlooked. Unless you were in that elite group, you were a one of the masses. This probably happens everywhere, but where I lived it completely ruled the school.

Then there's dating in high school which can be fun, but there's almost always an expiration date on it. Besides that, people change way too much in the few short years of 14-18, and I really would rather not have people remember exactly what I was like in that span of time.

College also shouldn't be the best few years of your life. Any time can be a great time, but realistically think about where you are and what you are doing. Maybe you don't have to pay rent yet, or worry about a job. Maybe you party every weekend and not worry about a thing. But don't sit there and tell yourself, "This is the best time of my life."

You're simply discrediting the times ahead of you. There's more to life than high school football games, there's more to life than winning beer pong. There's groundbreaking research, there's holding your first child, there's getting your first promotion or pay raise. There's buying your first house, or your first apartment and actually living alone with your cat/dog/guinea pig.

However, adulthood is not monolithic, and not everyone experiences it the same way. Experience what you want, how you want. Don't let someone tell you in what order the "best years of your life" should be in, or if you should even have those alleged "best years."

Study broadly. Don't narrow life choices because there's one thing that you think you'll want to do forever, do everything you can. Do things you probably can't. But don't let time fly by without acting on it, especially if you're willing to label it "the best years of your life."

Cover Image Credit: Sonja Jordan

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Making a Decision: an Indecisive Guide

To all the indecisive people out there: you are not alone


I am the queen of indecision. For me, making a choice will have me frantically calling both of my parents, asking all of my friends' advice and postponing all studying until the decision is made. Of course, this is because I do not want to make a choice that I regret – such as the time I decided that starting my job at 6:30 am would be a good idea, or the time when I scared my friends with how hyper I was after drinking both coffee and Boba tea. Yet when I take this caution of making the wrong choice too far, the decision-making process itself ends up being regrettable. So much so that I called my mom approximately seven times this weekend to ask her advice on a decision. So much so that my brother used an example of me not being able to choose what kind of shoe I should wear in his article.

This weekend, I was presented with two amazing opportunities to make a difference in the world this summer and I entered a stage of decision paralysis that I did not know was possible. No matter which angle I looked at each situation from, they both would provide me with a phenomenal experience, and would both require sacrifices. Despite not (as of yet) reaching a concrete decision, I learned a lot about the decision-making process and what to do in the next time I am faced with a difficult choice. So, in the spirit of finding summer jobs, gearing up to register for classes and deciding what on earth we want to do with our futures, here are the tips and tricks that I would follow to make the best decision that you can.

Don't overthink it.


Really, this goes without thinking! Or, unlike most of us, it goes with a LOT of thinking! Seriously though, if you overthink things, they will turn into a pudding mush in your brain until you don't know what you don't know anymore. There is a very fine line between thinking through all your options and overthinking them – and judging by the number of times I called my mom this weekend, definitely crossed it.

Always use the pro-con list


Ah, the Gilmore Girls. Not only did you inspire me to read every single book under the sun or have a witty conversation full of cultural references no one else understands, but you also taught me the beauty of the pro-con list. Choosing what you want can be messy and difficult to find because of the fears you might have. distinguish from the fears. Writing it all down on paper can often illuminate the right decision and show you which path is ultimately better.

Decide on your make-or-break factor


Sometimes even the best pro-and-con lists will not be enough and will leave you in a frantic analysis ("should I go for the decision with 3 cons or 3.5 cons?") When even the Gilmore method fails, fear not! Consider which factors you truly do not want to compromise on and go from there. This can mean that even the worse decision may be the right one for you.

Trust your gut


As much as it is difficult to dig through your feelings to find your true motives behind a decision, your gut can sometimes tell you what you are most passionate about and therefore what decision is best for you to take. As my Emory Reads friends tell me, passion trumps everything. Choosing which decision aligns with your values will often lead you to make the best and most-satisfying decision.

But trust your head as well


But your gut can't always be trusted. It can lie to you, and when you overthink too much, it can change its mind. Your gut feeling may be one that is furthermore borne out of fear of the other option. In that way, I have made many a good decision based on the pure basis of rationality. Using only our heart to make important decisions allows fear to be one of the factors, whereas looking at the decision rationally can help you see the ultimate path.

Ask around


When I am puzzled about making a risky decision, I often consult the people in my life who are on my side and want the best for me. These people can help you gauge what your heart truly desires, bring up factors that you haven't considered and even act as a support network for you while making this decision. When your mind kicks into over-analysis, sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to truly make a confident choice. Decisions are hard, people. Don't make them on your own.=

Don't ask everyone


There is such a thing as consulting others to make an important decision, and there is such a thing as relying on them to make your decision. If you ask too many people from too wide a pool, you'll end up having opinions for and against what you are proposing, which means that someone will always be disappointed in your decision. The bottom line is, asking too many people for their opinions is frustrating, no matter what – whether they have contradicting opinions, or they just nod their heads and go "hmmm, tough choice" (thanks, I guess?). In order to avoid frustration, consult the people in your life who know you the best and are dearest to you, rather than the stranger in front of you in line for fries at the DUC.

"Would my dad be proud?"


Or your granddad, or your mom, or your professor, or even a TV character. Whoever you know whose morals you can measure your decision up to will often provide reason and illumination. If the decision you are making is not too wild and you feel that you will have their approval, then it is likely not detrimental.

Stick with your decision!


Resolutely make up your mind and refuse to turn back. Exercise your right as a free individual to make a choice for yourself, and then do not second-guess it. Please don't do what I did and email a company two days later saying you've changed your mind. Please.

There is not always a right decision


Sometimes both decisions you are presented with have different but equally good opportunities. In that case, lucky you! You have two amazing opportunities and therefore cannot mess up. Rather than stressing that you are picking the wrong choice, know that you cannot go wrong in either.

Realize you will grow no matter what


Decision-making should be viewed as a challenge and a privilege rather than a burden. Make big, bold and beautiful decisions. Making up your mind can lead to a phenomenal experience that you will adore or a difficult experience that will only fashion you into a better person. Positive consequences can come out of any decision, even if we land in an upsetting position. Each choice we make can positively contribute to our character, fashioning us into the person we are becoming, day by day.

By the time this article is published, I will know my decision. And hopefully, by the end of this article, you will know yours. Let's continue to make decisions courageously, following both our heads and our hearts. Let's be determined to grow through our decisions, realizing that we have made the best choice we could, and never looking back.

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