Your parent has their high school buddy over for dinner. For the whole night, said buddy is raving about their years and adventures when they were a teen — you learn that they played as the star of the football team, maintained near-perfect grades, and had a thriving social life. Most of all, you learn how much they miss their high school experience. They tell you that high school was the peak of their life, and that it only went downhill from there.
As high schoolers, we hear it all the time: “Enjoy your teenage years… They’re the best!” But with all of the studying, stress, and social scenarios that come with being a teenager, could that statement really be true? Are our years in high school actually the most successful years of our lives, or will what is to come be better? How do we truly know if the peak of our lives is occurring right now?
Although it would be great to know the answers to those questions, the truth of the matter is that there is simply no way to tell when you are at your highest point. Think of it this way; if someone knew that they were at their most successful position at a given instant, what would prompt them to get up in the morning? What goals would they strive to reach? If one knew that they could not do any better than their current state, they would have no motivation to better themselves.
See, everything is relative. You can only say that a moment in your life is your “highest point” after you have experienced other moments. In other words, it is impossible to say that life cannot get any better when you have not yet lived through your future events. While something might seem like a high point given other experiences, there could always be something in the future that will be even better.
Of course, we all want to avoid the idea of peaking in high school. Ideally, we would like to constantly grow and learn, and not remain stagnant in the same “teenage bubble” for our entire life. The only way to accomplish this is by setting long-term goals. People only stay in the same place when they are complacent with their accomplishments — by constantly aiming to be better than before, it is inevitable that life will, in some way, get better.
While writing this article, I couldn’t help but think of Andy on the series finale of The Office, when he so cleverly says, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” There is never truly a way to know if these days are, indeed, your highest points. We do not know what the future holds, nor will we ever learn until the future becomes the present. That is why we have to make the most of every single moment, as cheesy and cliché as it may sound. Set goals, and live every day as if it were your “high school peak.”
Graphics: Amelia Chen