High School: The most ‘okay’ four years of your life


One thing I vividly remember about growing up is my dad telling me that his high school days were some of the best four years of his life. He qualified this by recounting funny memories, cool things he did, or lessons he learned. I kept this in the back of my mind as I watched my favorite teen movies that sold me the same impression.

One example, in particular, is ‘A Cinderella Story’ (the Hilary Duff one). The audience sees the main character is stuck in an awful life situation. She’s essentially a personal slave for her deceased father’s wife and her school life is subpar to match. Then she meets this guy and falls for him, there’s a Halloween themed dance, and the popular kids start to get upset with her. After the guy realizes he’s in love with the main character and the popular kids get over it, she gets into Princeton and her life is suddenly fantastic.

One thing the movie does well maintains the importance of high school as a time period in your life. If you figure out the trivial things, the movie urges, your life will be great. But most importantly, this plot archetype works to portray high school as something bigger, something that facilitates major personal events in your life.

I say personal events because generally, high school does help you move along the timeline of your life professionally. For most people, college is the endgame of high school. This will help you get employed, which can get you money, which can keep you in a good position in life, and so on. But the Hollywood portrayal of these 4 years chalks it up to a social game that can end in you winning or harshly losing, never really in between.

Which brings me to my point: high school is really not going to to be the best time of your life. Ultimately, you’re there for two main reasons: to learn things and to grow up. Anything else that happens alongside these events is entirely separate. It’s exciting to be trying new things, hanging out with new people, and seeing life in different ways. It’s also equally uncomfortable to be doing all of those things.

When you mix all of your experiences together, it’s really not leaning towards positivity, just neutrality.

You’re supposed to be studying, getting good grades, and figuring out what life is going to end up looking like for you. Whether or not you do that is entirely up to you, but for those who are striving for the perfect high school experience: don’t worry about it. If you end up having the best time of your life, perfect!

But if you don’t, there’s no need to worry. There’s more time for you to experience new things and more time for you to claim that something is “the best (number of) years of your life.”