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The Best Days of Our Lives

Childhood is such a simple thing. It leaves as a plague – never looked back on – and we later remember it as a dream. So small and innocent we are while adolescence runs through our veins, a river flooding our bodies and building a pond in our minds. And yet, we ran around like the world might end any second. No puddle was left un-splashed; no toy untouched. There were fights over crayons, instead of stolen girlfriends. We played with cheap McDonald's toys and Mommy's makeup, not alcohol and marijuana. Our goals were limited to creating a drawing worthy enough to earn a place on the fridge, not about getting laid or earning Prom Queen votes. We were afraid of the Boogeyman and wetting the bed – we never worried about going to jail or getting knocked-up. Nobody ever judged you for your face, your clothes, or your mistakes.

We were awakened from the dream; all of the crayons were long gone and Mommy's makeup suddenly had more of a purpose. “Fad'” became more than just a silly word. “Popularity” was not only possible to pronounce, but also the most important word in our vocabulary. As the fog around us suddenly lifted, we rubbed our eyes and we found ourselves doing things just because of what the other kids around us thought and said. We cared about our wardrobes; what we looked like in public. Santa Clause turned into a distant fairytale, along with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Girls grew chests, and boys grew anywhere possible. “Cooties” suddenly didn't seem like such a bad thing. There were things going on with our bodies of which nobody ever gave us the courtesy of knowing.

And then these horrible words came out. Words of malice and demonic substance. They were used with ignorance and tossed carelessly into the atmosphere, polluting everything wonderful and good. Yet no one could understand why they were considered so “cool.”

Our faces grew out. Our appearances and demeanor became noted. And then, we were judged – harshly. They drew labels on our foreheads in permanent Sharpie. Pretty girls became popular, ugly ones became outcasts. “Jocks” were the cool kids with athletic abilities, intelligent kids were called “nerds” or “geeks” and hazed away. If you were different, if you had a disorder, if you didn't care about style or stereotypes – you were at the bottom of the high school food-chain.

As if all of these aren't enough, we have parents demanding good grades and teachers demanding five thousand word essays. We have colleges we need to apply for and Calculus classes to pass. We have SAT scores to worry about and GPA numbers to watch. And on top of it all, we are surrounded by drama-filled, angst-y, sometimes even stupid teenagers of whom can't stop picking fights, getting “plastered,” becoming the next “Teen Mom,” or flunking every class except Art. Some of us are actually trying – no, we really are. Some of us really do want good grades as much as our parents and high SAT scores to get into good colleges. Some of us want a chance at Harvard University and a degree in brain surgery. But in the end, all we really want the most is our diplomas and a one-way ticket out.

Many adults may not realize – or maybe they've just forgotten – that high school is not easy, no matter what anyone says about the “best days of our lives.” And maybe people don't really believe that a little high school hazing is all that serious, or maybe they don't truly think that obtaining a high grade-average while attempting to raise enough money for class dues and Drivers Ed is all that difficult. But maybe they need to look a little closer.





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