"Enjoy these days! They're the best years of your life!"
"It'll never be better for you than it is right now! High school is the best time of your life!"
"This is the happiest you'll ever be!"
Am I hearing you right?
17-years-old was the happiest you've ever been?
No time in your life has been better than it was at 18?
Three times this week, I've heard those very words spoken by well meaning adults to teens regarding their impending return to high school -- some for the last time.
And each time, I've had this gut reaction to want to run up to those high schoolers and say "NONONO...don't listen to this! High school IS NOT the best time of your life....at least I hope it won't be!" And then turn to the adults and shake them silly...to help remind them of the wonderful, better than Friday night football games and homeroom chats and classroom successes combined moments they've had since graduation day.
What about when they make it through their first year of college? Or land that coveted first job? Or really fall in love? And get married? And buy a house? And start a family? And see that family grow and flourish...
Aren't those the best moments in life? Aren't those the times we should be telling our kids to look forward to?
This very thought process has been a thorn in my side since I was in high school. At the time, and even now, I can't believe we are telling our bright, talented children that who they are at 16, 17, 18-years-old is the very best they'll ever be.
I heard a motivational speaker once who's advice was to re-work our words. At the time -- I thought she was a nut. She wanted her listeners to change their words in order to change how they felt. For example -- instead of saying "I'm so stressed out!", she would say "I'm so blessed out!" Instead of "I hate this!", she would say "I'm so disenchanted with this right now." Kinda hokey, I know, but...try it. At first it made me laugh, because I felt like an idiot....but then, after a few tries, I actually felt a little better recognizing that I'm stressed...BECAUSE I'm so blessed.
My point? The words we say, no matter how trivial they seem, mean something to those listening. If we are telling our youngsters, "You'll never be happier than you are today..." (Which means they've reached their bliss at 17. With broken out skin. And no money of their own...Wheeee!) ...We are essentially saying that they should cash it in now and they shouldn't even waste time trying to get in to college or find a dream for the future. None of it will ever match up to right now.
Talk about selling someone short...
So change your words. Tell those kids that their senior year will ROCK, because they're young and cool and have a HUGE future waiting for them on the other side of graduation day. One so cool, so big...so full of awesome, they can't even begin to imagine what it's going to be like. And it's going to be even better than the best moment they have this school year.
Or maybe just say, "Enjoy this year! It's going to be great...because it's setting you up for even better things in the future."
Until next time,