4 things to be grateful for if you’re still in high school – a letter from a 26 year old
Dear 13 to 17 year olds,
I am 26 years old and oh lord, do I feel old. Now age is just a number and yes it’s true, I have so much more freedom than you and I’ve got so much more money than you (or at least… That’s what I tell myself).
But those annoying things that grownups keep telling y’all? What they kept telling me? – “Enjoy it while it lasts”, “It’s the best years of your life”, “Don’t be in a hurry to grow up” – It’s true.
Now I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule and many who will disagree with me, but here’s my reasons for why, and trust me when I say that you’ll wanna slow it down as much as you can.
1. Time passes by more slowly
When I was a teen, the days stretched on! From school to koko to tuition and whatever classes you may have joined. If you were a gamer, you’d be glued to your PC at night and if you were a “socialite” you’d be on Friendster and Facebook and My Space and MSN (GOOD TIMES). Times have changed, from PCs to iPads and MSN to Whatsapp, IG stories and Snapchat but it’s really still the same. I’d do all of this and still have time to spend an hour talking on the phone with a friend or a crush. Lifetimes passed by in a single day. 24 hours was painfully long, and I couldn’t wait for the next day to come.
Nowadays, it’s so fast, one moment I’m 21 thinking yasss, this was the age I used to think was the perfect age, the age of awesomeness (because we’ve all got a number we’re looking forwards to) and the next moment, I’m 24 and jobless with PTPTN bills to pay and the hours just slip by, the days meld together, the weeks all seem the same, and I find a job that’s jaded or maybe it’s great but it doesn’t matter because time won’t stop ticking and people are getting promoted, married, pregnant, dead. Because life is on hyper-drive after high school.
So here’s my advice: Let your days stretch on and be grateful that the loceng for end of school hasn’t rung. “Go back time” is great but rehat time was better. Soon you’ll be speeding by your life and you’ll wonder how years can go by in the blink of an eye.
2. The drama was real and horrible and honestly, fun
See, back then, plastics and crushes, mean boys and mirrors that told me I was ugly, my best friends and my enemies, kind teachers and terrible ones, parents and the boy who would make me smile when I looked sad – they were the world, the universe and the milk I dipped my cookies in. They completed me. Every day was a new drama, a new story, a new adventure. And each thing that happened was laced with either joy or embarrassment, a high so wonderful I could feel every nerve in my body tingle or a sadness so overwhelmingly world wreaking I wished a bus would just run into me so that I could come back as a ghost and see if anyone really cared if I was gone or not. On hindsight, they were all so petty, such small matters with consequences that mean almost nothing to me now…
But today, the tiniest of dramas can bring about life altering scenarios. Boss not cool with you? Your work life balance is on the line, your career progression is at stake, you might not even get to take leave to attend a friend’s wedding in Ipoh. You forgot to pay this month’s PTPTN loan installment? Ooops – Forget getting a house loan or a car loan, oh yeah, them banks can be cruel. Alright, this is an exaggeration, but it won’t make life any easier and it will definitely make it harder.
My advice? Stir the pot while you’re in high school. Be a nice person, be kind, you won’t ever regret being kind – but don’t worry about causing drama, instead get it out of your system, sit back and enjoy the show because once you’re adulting, you’ll have nothing but sad stories instead of the great “make it or break it”, “it defined who I am today” stories that high school gives us.
3. Friendships were stronger, bigger and more exciting
I’m not gonna be one of those people who says stuff like “I can count the number of real friends that I have in one hand” or “You only need 2 or 3 good friends”. That’s true and it’s very possible that you have this in high school, which is enough. But if you were like me then you might’ve been surrounded by friends, you fit into every group and you could easily navigate yourself in the background of any social circle. And oh, it was so easy to say that this bond will last forever, and we’ll do this even when we’re old and wrinkly and someday we’ll live together or go there together!
Our dreams were intertwined, our ideas sounded realer when our friends uttered it, repeated it, promised it. They weren’t just being nice. It’s us against the world. Every scenario broken down in gossip, every glance turned into an epic saga, every movie outing – a story we’d repeat 200 times over the course of 5 years because that was when THAT THING happened to THAT PERSON.
Nowadays, the friendships are still real. But they’ve become more of an escape. There is work and family and the future, all looming over you and your friends are there, with kind words and hope. They still hold your hand, they will still promise you things but you both know there’s a “but” or a “maybe” or hey, it’ll happen but not today. Back then, a friendship was a whirlwind over the ocean, an anchor in a raging storm, bright neon colors on a plain canvas, music so loud the noise of the world was blocked and now it’s a cup of tea when it’s raining, a cold beer when it’s been a long day, a quirky ornament on your office desk, a funny forwarded message, a friendly smile when the world gives you nothing but a frown.
So do this; hold on tight. Your hold will loosen but that’s okay, at least you’ll always have that day, that story, that night, that person, that book, that movie, that blouse – at least you’ll have felt that friendship.
4. Knowing that you have your whole life ahead of you
I believed in every possibility – I could be anything I wanted to be, I’d definitely be a millionaire before 30 and yes, I’ll totally be investing in property and OMG my clothes will be amazing. I’m educated, I have something to offer to this world, my calling is somewhere out there, my future filled with infinite possibilities. My boss will love me, my colleagues will slowly but surely come to respect me and look up to me. As soon as I have a salary, I’ll be travelling every few months with my boo and oh, the stories I will have and the pictures I will take!
Am I being patronizing? A little. I apologize. I’m not saying it can’t happen. Your dreams are not pipe dreams and I’ll admit, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some of the above fantasies of mine (not the millionaire one but I’ve got 4 years to keep trying!). But back then, you really did have the wide open road in front of you. The forks and T junctions were filled with wonder and worry and a sense of “wow, I’m doing this!”. Now it’s just apprehension most of the time because tik tok, time ain’t got time for you.
The realities of the world catch up. I remember the exact moment in University when I was playing a typical Facebook game (can’t remember which right now) and it was one of those that gave you 3 hearts for 3 lives or 3 chances. And I remember I lost 2 hearts and I was on my last chance and suddenly I hit pause because I thought “Oh… I really am on just one life”.
And in that moment I wished so much that I could go back in time, back to high school, not to change anything… Just to relive it so that I could fill infinite again.
So kids, listen to this young at heart, adulting child – just… Chill. You’ve got time to grow up later.
P.S. Do stupid things.