Monday, September 28, 2015

The Best Years of My Life?

On September 26th, Facebook's 'On this Day' reminded me that I left for England a year ago.

It reminded me on September 27th how my first purchase in pounds was an airport sandwich, a bag of carrots, and a smoothie.

On September 28th it showed the first picture I took in Chester; a reminder that I met lifelong friends that same morning.

Gee... Thanks, Facebook.

Needless to say, my usual productive weekend was actually spent crying in bed while watching Netflix and drinking tea.  With my anxiety at an all-time high, I couldn't even make myself get out of bed to complete the minor list of things I needed to accomplish over the weekend.  I was tired, sad, grumpy, nervous, and upset: all because Facebook reminded me that I left for the trip of a lifetime last year.

When Sunday finally rolled around, I was able to do the minimum amount of homework needed for the next day.  If you know me at all, you know I'm pretty big on getting a lot of stuff done before the week starts.  Even after getting completely ready for the day ahead, I couldn't seem to get out of this awful slump that had struck me Saturday morning, and I knew classes would be tough if I went in on Monday in the same mental state.

It wasn't until my nightly talk with L that things started to look up.  We talked about our recent stresses with grad school applications and the overwhelming adult feelings we were having.  When I brought up the state of mind I was experiencing, she asked the obvious question; "Have you tried writing everything down?".  You'd think after years of doing this I'd realize that the best medicine was hiding in my keyboard.  I guess I have to keep L around for awhile to remind me.

With a blank page in Word and a mind of crazy thoughts, I started with a simple list of what I was feeling.  With each of these emotions, I wrote the reason why I was feeling it and filed it away once I understood where it was coming from.  After stripping away the sadness and the anger and all the other emotions; I had an overwhelming feeling of frustration.  

It can't really be a surprise to hear that I wasn't much of a 'partier' in high school.  I enjoyed spending my weekends at home reading a book with my parents close by.  This mentality of enjoying myself was apparently lost on some people as I continually heard, "These are the best years of your life!  Do you really want to spend them at home reading?"

When freshman year came around, I joined my peers in new organizations and classes.  I hit up a party (once) and made friends that I can trust for my entire life.  Again, I continually heard, "These four years will be the best years of your life!"

When I announced that I'd be studying abroad in England during my junior year, I was once again brought to the phrase, "Take advantage of that time! It'll be the best three months of your life!"

I still find myself agreeing with them at times.  I had so much fun studying abroad that it's hard to believe an experience can get any better than that.  I still find myself looking back and smiling at the crazy and amazing things we did.  Does this school year sound as exciting without a European trip planned? No.  Do I wish I could rewind and relive my study abroad experience? Heck Yea.

But how sad would it be if I truly believed that it was the best time of my life?  What does that mean for the rest of my living adulthood?  Am I doomed to boredom?  


I refuse to believe that those three months were the best months of my life; just like I refuse to believe high school or college are the best years of my life.  It was great, it was amazing, and it was spectacular.  But why do we keep saying, "Those will be the best years of our life!"?  Why are we creating such a negative mentality?

In high school I received a little sign from an advisor that said "The Best is Yet to Be".  At the time I was a little offended, but I've come to find a new understanding of it over the last few days.  It doesn't mean that you didn't have an amazing time or do a good job... it just means that you refuse to believe it was the best.  

There are always more adventures out there to have.

There are always more skills and lessons to learn.

Our lives are not one-hit-wonders.  We don't have some vial of 'awesomeness' that gets sprinkled throughout our life and then thrown out once we use it all.  If you feel like you've lived your best and can't imagine topping it; go out and find something better.  Don't settle for less.  We can have as many wonderful years or 'trips of a lifetime' that we want; as long as we take the initiative to believe that the best is yet to come...

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