Everyone over the age of, oh, 30 has this total nostalgia for their youth. Not the prepubescent days of playing in the yard, but more between the ages of 12 and 25. The older you get, the farther back your nostalgia stretches, so someone who is sixty feels nostalgia for their high school days but the more recent memories of the forty-year-old remind them that senior year in high school and the wonders of college were the real "best years of their life."
As someone who is currently in one of those "best years" and seems to be botching it up quite nicely, I have a theory on this. I have problems that make me miserable at times; these years don't really seem like "the best" to me. And yet, I know that in ten years I'll look back on this time in my life and even with the assistance of this detailed record of my life, I'll think the same thing everyone else does. This isn't some depressing reflection on what I expect my future to be like. It's a positive reflection on what it's like to be young.
Let's ignore the obvious. Yes, I'm healthier than I probably will ever be (which is scary, as I need to go to the doctor again soon); yes, my parents are footing the bills; yes, I have lots of freedom without that much responsibility besides maintaining my grades. But there are deeper advantages to being young that people don't tend to notice.
I am at the stage in my life where I literally experience something new every day. When you're older, you can take classes or read books and learn new things all the time, but I don't really have to put any effort into experiencing new things-- because everything's new. Buying a rug was a new experience for me. Sealing up the window. Using a coed bathroom (more on that later...) and seeing a guy wandering around in a towel with a nipple ring.
When you're young, life is all about firsts. First relationship. First kiss. First time alone on public transportation. Whatever it is, it's your first time, and thus it's exciting and new and unusual, if only for a few brief seconds before you realize there is absolutely nothing exciting about public transportation. But you're still constantly exposed to new things, strange things, fascinating things that make life anything but dull.
Sometimes kids my age get jaded and bitter, and talk about how boring life is and long for excitement. I don't need excitement. I can see the excitement in every day as I see or do or learn something new. Those people will look back on life and think about how they wish they could go back and relive their glory days, knowing what they'll know then, and experience it to the fullest. I won't need to, because I've figured out how to revel in the strange and fascinating world of the ordinary right now.
Oh, before I forget-- I had to use a coed bathroom (not the one-person-at-a-time sort, the kind with stalls) the other day. I loitered outside for a few minutes first, making sure no one went in or out. Then I opened the door and quickly glanced around, making sure there was no one there and keeping my eyes at eye level for fear of urinals; I then proceeded to go to the bathroom very, very quickly and tore out of there as soon as I sanitarily could.
The entire incident was utterly ridiculous and I've decided next time I'll just walk up a couple floors to find a ladies' room. I don't know what I was thinking, I still internally freak out when a guy walks by in a towel on my coed floor (nipple piercing or otherwise). I honestly think if a guy had come into the bathroom I would have had a heart attack and died right there on the gross tile floor.
...yay new experiences?