Are these really the glory days?

I am not living in the glory days. While high school was once known as the ‘best days of your lives’ for the older generations, my feelings on the subject are quite the contrary.

I am sleep-deprived. I wake up before the sun is up. I do not have time in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast. I have woken up at 2 AM — yes 2 AM — to do homework. I have a terrible habit of biting my nails because of the constant pressure and immense stress. The impending future of choosing colleges and careers worries the living daylights out of me. I have had the occasional public breakdown.

Are these really the glory days?

The reality is that this is now the very average, very typical life of today’s student. We’re moving too fast. Too busy studying for AP classes and going to private tutoring for the SAT. Too busy going from piano recital to drama rehearsal to soccer practice to German club. Too busy to romanticize with the commonly heard notion, that these are our glory days.

Is this how it’s always been? Either things have changed with time, or our elders have been lying to us all along.

Because more times than not, I am convinced that this is the most stressful period of my life. And that there is a thick, definite line between success and failure; if I cross into failure, I am doomed to remain there and be stuck.

Of course, I can blame my young, over-reacting, over-dramatic personality for that. And I could take the overused, preachy advice of “Don’t stress out!.”

Oh gee thanks, I feel better now.

But as I roll my eyes and continue to build up my woes, at the end of the day, I know we’re too young not to believe that everything will be okay. I am a staunch believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason. But I don’t use that as an excuse to sit back and let life control the game. Play the cards you’re dealt.

I look back and see all that I have accomplished, all that I have experienced, and (surprise) all the places where I have failed… because a closed door led to an open one somewhere else.

I think of the progress I’ve made as an individual, towards making an impact on my surroundings and becoming my own person.

I remember being shy and quiet once. But then I remember the ten-minute speech I gave to an audience of 80 today. And yes, I looked them all in the eye.

I remember getting rejected from The Chronicle last year, our highly competitive student-run newspaper, and thinking it was the end of my pursuit of journalism. ‘Oh, better find a new passion now,’ I quickly surrendered. But then I remember being called back and finding my place on staff as a writer and now becoming an editor for the next school year.

I remember being frustrated that I would never find my place in the world or that I would never be ‘important.’ But then I remember that I am fortunate enough to go to a school where the opportunities are limitless.

I still think negatively sometimes. But I feel better knowing that that one day I might — just might — look back and appreciate it all.

Maybe the glory days are all about that feeling of hope; if so, shouldn’t we be trying to cling on to that hope forever?

And I guess the glory days are also about guts. This is the time in our lives where even though we have so many outside influences — parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers, friends, peers, media, advertising, social networks — even with those pressures, we have our guts. Most of the time, being young means we have the opportunity to be selfish about our passions and our hobbies and to go along with our inner conscience — one that may be 100% wrong sometimes. But that’s okay.

I like knowing that I have reached an age where I trust my thoughts, my actions, and my ambitions. I panic about everything sometimes, but my faith ultimately prevails.

“You have your whole life ahead of you,” I always hear. It can be a scary thing to think about, the unknown, the ambiguity. But it can also be the most optimistic, reassuring thing to think about.

It all depends on which perspective you choose. I think I’ll choose to be hopeful.

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