4 Years Of My Life


First of all, right off the bat, I just wanted to say that there is nothing wrong with the saying “They were right, college was the 4 best years of my life” or any other saying related to that idea. Yesterday was exactly one year since I graduated from university and seeing all of the pictures of everyone’s caps and gowns really brought me back. But those short sayings about college being the best 4 years (or 5 for those super seniors) really struck me and I got to thinking.

I was taught a while ago that in this moment there is nothing, no past, no future, it is perfect…nothing to fix or change. From nothing, I can create – anything. And then I thought back to my experiences at school. Many were up, many were down. But then I thought about the whole entire idea and started to ask some serious questions.

Were those really the best years of my life? Am I totally screwed if they were?

And I know what people are thinking when they say, “Soak it in now, these years will fly by fast and the college ones are the best of them.” But really? Seriously? Don’t get me wrong, college was fun – but out of everything it was a learning experience. It was a gigantic game of paddle ball. Try something, almost get an automatic result, and since I hadn’t tried it before…often of times the consequences were…dicey. Drinking, partying, college classes, group projects, friends, friends getting into trouble, yourself getting into trouble, the opposite sex, major life events…the list goes on and on.

What makes people think back and say that those were the best?

College is a time of finding out what you love and what you are passionate about. You get chances to take classes and meet people who are new and interesting. You get opportunities to mingle with alumni and teachers and really gain some wisdom, if your ears are open at least. You can pretty much make decisions for yourself and lead the life that you want to. But college was no joke. Major emotional turmoil, carrying friends home who were blacked out or strung out, horrible gossip, sorority and fraternity cliques and eruptions after a sister or brother crossed the line with another’s crush or love interest. Drugs. Alcohol. Reckless sex. General cluelessness. Overeating. Eating disorders. Back stabbing. Pain. Anguish. The best years? Are these the best? How do you even define the best?

They were fun years. But now speaking for myself, I never thought that they were going to be the best years out of my entire life. I knew that I had to go through those years to truly understand the importance of what my vision was – without knowing the darkness you can never appreciate the light. I knew that with empathy and compassion for other people, I could help them through whatever bad things happened during those years. But college for me was a period of time where I shut my mouth and listened to what was going on around me. So I did…and I learned some pretty interesting things.

But here’s really what I wanted to talk about today. Aristotle once said that “we are what we repeatedly do.” I believe this is true and I also believe that we become what we think about. I understand why people think that the college years were the best ones…you don’t have to go to a 9 – 5 job, pay the bills, have major responsibilities etc…but why can’t the rest of your life be the best of your life? Why can’t you take what you learned from that time and build upon it as a foundation rather than seeing the rest of your life as a denouement  to your story. I know I’m not. I want to make every year better than the last. In fact, I want every day to be better than the last. Sure there will be some terrible things that happen and it might knock you down, but each and every day you have an opportunity to really turn it around and change your world. I know this to be the truth.

So to all those college graduates out there: don’t settle. They were great years of your life, but they weren’t the best. The best ones  come in the 60+ years ahead of you. They will be the best years of  your life if you live them. Yeah, you might have to grind it out for a while doing a job you don’t really like, but if you find what you are passionate about in this world, and work on that when you get home from your other job, soon enough you will be able to create things you never imagined you could. Passion ignites your soul.

– Evan Sanders

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  • Caron Eastgate Dann
    June 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Reblogged this on The Crayon Files and commented:
    A great column in which Evan Sanders says that while university might well be the best years of your life, it’s not necessarily so: that the best years can be all the years you are living, even if there are struggles along the way. It’s a lesson in making the best of what we have.

  • stormy1812
    June 16, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    this is timely for me. in the last few years, i’ve either been stuck in the past, worrying too much about having wasted those years or too worried about the future and not being where i want to be at my age (i’ll be 32 in august but i feel much older) instead of just focusing on making the most of the present. that’s just so hard for me right this moment, especially now that im in a rut, a bit burned out but unsure of how to reenergize. but if i really want to get where im going, i better get going. it won’t come to me. thanks for the reminder! i would say that my college years were fabulous and was fortunate enough to not deal with some of what you listed and i feel those years will rank high BUT they aren’t the end all. there’s still more life to live. 🙂

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  • neelkanth
    June 16, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    Nice article, Aristotle is well quoted.

  • keladelaide
    June 17, 2013 at 5:13 am

    That last line is what it’s all about.

  • hopejohnson2013
    June 17, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I am so glad you addressed this! I just graduated from college, and I constantly heard from older people I respected, “make sure you make the most of these 4 years; they are the best years of your life.” People mean well when they give this advice, but it puts a lot of pressure on the college experience to be perfect. College does offer great opportunities for growth, but like any part of life, it has its ups and downs, and in my experience, these ups and downs can be much more stressful and dramatic in such an intensive, stimulating environment. College was a great experience, but I by no means feel like “it all goes downhill from here.” Thanks for the post; it was really relevant, and I think more students need to hear that there is life after college!

  • SirSocial
    June 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Completely agree. I can easily say that college was the biggest learning experience I have ever had both in academics and in people but by no means does that make them the best. That and as far as higher ed goes you can go back any time you like. I’ve got one year left on my masters.

  • thoughtfullywritten
    June 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Thoughtfully Written.

  • fitchick007
    June 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I agree. I had an amazing time in college. I meant some amazing people and made some great friends and I had a lot of fun. But, I wouldn’t say they were the best years. I would say that I’m living the best years now and they’re getting better each year. There is so much to life after college/university. So much to learn and experience and so much of it is what you make of it. We all have the choice to live each day deeply, fully and joyfully and to make each day the best. Yes, we all go through some really rough times but again, it’s our choice each time we get knocked down to either stay down or get back up. Every day is the best as long as we choose it to be:)

  • A.M. Ashfyrd
    June 18, 2013 at 1:21 am

    For me, the best of times do not arrive on my doorstep with a great deal of fanfare. Nor do they appear according to expectation. Rather, they quietly approach unannounced. And it is up to me to recognize and appreciate them – as and when they pop by.

  • Cassandra
    June 18, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Hi Evan, don’t worry they won’t be the best years of your life. We’re too immature and insecure during the college years to be truly happy. People just say they’re the best years because in many ways they are the easiest – as you say no real work, lots of friends and parties, and no bills to pay or real-world stress. Every year should get better as you learn and grow and know yourself more and more, and that will especially be the case if that is how you want to live your life. So enjoy! The best years are eternally ahead of you 🙂

  • prashlive
    June 18, 2013 at 4:04 am

    I think my 4 years were the best as I had no responsibilities and I did what I wanted to. I am really glad you wrote this topic. I went back to my college days. Its now 7 years since I left college.

  • Shamz
    June 19, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Reblogged this on Shamz Unlimited and commented:
    Definitely some food for thought…