The Best Years of My Life

Hailey - Mesa, Arizona
Entered on December 8, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Ever since I was a little girl, it has been hammered into my head that if I enjoy any time in my life, it is going to be my years spent in high school. Between football games, parties, and dances, everyone told me there was no way I would not enjoy myself. They stressed that senior “took the cake”, that every year built up to that one milestone of a year. Through conversations, I have realized that I was not the only child who was exposed to the idea of an ideal high school experience, one that could compete with the likes of Grease or Happy Days. But can reality compete with a script?

I walked into my senior year prepared to have as much fun as I possibly could. I was a Varsity Cheerleader, was going to graduate with honors, and had administration in the palm of my hand. I felt that I had all the ammo to blow away this year and make it best. It started off strong, but at the end of my first semester, signs of trouble began. People I had known for years suddenly seemed strangers and things I used to enjoy doing seemed irrelevant. I started declining invitations to parties and going straight to class. Normally, I would have been chit chatting with everyone and making it known that I had arrived. But now I wanted to be invisible.

I felt like something was wrong with me. I was so detached from everything I had ever known and I did not understand why I found myself so miserable in what was supposed to be “the best years of my life.” That is when I realized that I let the society I live in brainwash me to think that high school was a carefree experience, labeling them “the best years of our lives.” If anything, high school was a learning experience. I discovered the hard way that learning experiences are not synonymous with carefree.

Looking back, I question whether or not it was my own fault that my senior year did not reach the bar. But I also question whether or not I set that bar or I let society set it for me. I quickly rid my mind of those thoughts and had an epiphany when I did. In the real world, high school is meant for growing up, “finding yourself.” I do not live on a movie set. My actions and words are not premeditated or mapped out.

My high school experience was as idealized as it could have been. I had my share of good times and bad. It balanced me out, humbled me. Detaching myself from all that was familiar was good, because it was when I was out of my comfort zone that I realized the person I want to be and the person I had been was not it. I’m not in high school anymore, and I am not the person I was in high school. Best years of my life? Not a chance. Most influential? They take the cake.