The Best? Years of Our Lives

Emma Pinnow, Editor

High School. The best years of our lives. The four years when we live life to the fullest: Partying, falling in love, being young and dumb. 

There’s a slight problem with all of that. Being a teenager kind of, sort of, definitely sucks. 

What should be the “peak of our youth,” for many of us, ends up being full of stress, mental illness, and social discord. Despite this, adults continuously tell us to “enjoy us while it lasts” and that “this is the best it gets.” The second of which is probably the worst thing you could say to a teenager, ever. 

As of 2020, 13.01% of youth experienced a major depressive episode according to Mental Health America. This number has increased by 99,000 from the year prior. The Princeton Review states that over 50% of students report feeling stressed. 

Imagine that these students are being told that “Everything will get worse from here.” If you’re at rock bottom mentally, being told that this is the best you will ever feel makes you feel awful. It makes you pessimistic of the future, because apparently even though you feel bad you will feel worse. The mental health struggles you are facing are apparently just part of your “peak”. For the few who have suicidal ideation, this could do life threatening damage.

Many FMHS students can agree that high school is nothing like the movies tell us. Sophomore Joni McCall explains, “People are so rude to younger kids. The sophomores get picked on so much. They’re so mean. They’re just trying to get through high school, come on.” 

It’s not surprising. Puberty is widely known to cause emotional mood swings due to hormones. It’s why teens are stereotyped as ‘moody’. When we’re actually in school, we’re all trapped in one building for seven hours a day, so it’s entirely predictable that we would be so awful to each other. That hardly makes it the youthful paradise adults and media make it out to be. If movies were to be believed, bullies in high school all get their comeuppance dramatically at prom and learn the error of their ways. If only it were that simple.

Another student, Catherine Fletcher (senior), notes why it’s so hard to live up to the movies. “I feel like I can’t go do stuff with my friends because I have so much work and then my mom says ‘you don’t have a lot of friends’ and I’m like, well, mom I’m doing schoolwork all the time.” 

Teenage rom-coms like to depict high school as a time full of parties, going out, and trying new things without consequences, but it fails to acknowledge the biggest part of high school is the actual schooling. Keeping your grades up and graduating often takes priority over being young. Let’s be honest, when’s the last time you saw a teenage character actually doing schoolwork on TV?

It’s understandable that everyone romanticizes this time of our lives. Youth is highly treasured in our society and many adults don’t remember the hardships, only the nostalgia they have when looking back. Still, we need to keep in mind that the grass is always greener from the other side. Of course being a teenager seems nice to adults, because they aren’t teenagers anymore. However, it’s still important to remember that many of us in high school are struggling. Compassion from those who have made it out can make all of the difference, for those who are willing to extend it.