When I was in my junior year of high school, we had some motivational speaker come and talk to us in a school assembly - I think he may have been a comedian, but nobody you'd remember. He was somewhat funny and mouthed a lot of platitudes about our whole lives in front of us and how full of promise we all were....yeah, yeah, yeah. We got out of class for this so whatever.
Anyway, he ended his speech by telling us to cherish every moment because these high school days were "the best days of our lives."
I remember turning to my friends and we all had the same looks on our faces. It was a look that said: "Are you kidding me? This is as good as it gets?"
High school was a place rampant with horrible, judgmental people who could cut you dead and bury you in public ridicule for the wrong shirt or a bad haircut. It was full of teachers who were usually okay but occasionally burned out and taking it out on you. You had to live under your teacher's rules by day and your parent's rules after that. Everyone was busy dictating your life and not listening when you wanted to deviate from that. Who wanted to cherish that?
Now I have a daughter - one who is determined to graduate a year early because she can't wait to get out of high school - and I get that. She wants out of our small town and into a big life. I get that. Oh, do I get that.
But she just realized the other day that in less than two years, she'll be saying goodby to all the friends she's grown up with - the ones who'll be graduating a year behind her. She most likely won't see them much after that since very few in-state colleges offer what she's looking for and the best ones for it aren't in this state. It's starting to sink in, and she's having some second thoughts.
Honestly, I was a little surprised to hear it. Unlike me, she's not active in extra-curriculars (I had to browbeat her to join Spanish Club so she'd have something for her college applications) and she couldn't care less about football games, proms or school spirit-related anything. But she's waffling right now, and I wanted her to know that's okay. It's okay to stretch this out. To graduate with your friends. To not push yourself like a maniac and try to enjoy your high school experience a little more.
Because these are some of the best years of your life.
Yes, it came out of my mouth. And I meant it. Not the best years, mind you, but for her it can be some of them. Just like they were for me.
No, I was never popular. I didn't dress well. I cut my own hair. I got along okay with my teachers, but I was never a high school superstar.
But I had my niche. I was a speech and drama nerd, and a chorus girl. I had people who knew my name at every speech tournament, every drama festival. I acted and frolicked and sang with an incredible group of people and so many of all of them are still lifelong friends - even if it's only through Facebook these days. I would definitely pay cash money to be able to live some of that over again. Not all of it, mind you, but some of it. Definitely.
Anna has had her think and now she's still committed to graduating a year early, but if that changes back again, more power to her. It's her life and I want her to revel in every phase of it. Because I know the secret:
Every single day, at the moment you are you in this universe, experiencing what life has thrown at you this day....these can be the best days of your life. Every one of them, experienced in its own unique way. Sure, they all won't work out beautifully, but some will.
Some will. And you need to cherish while you've got them, because they don't come again. Not in that way. Not in that moment.
It's all about perspective. And potential.