''My school years were the best of my life''
No, 'Real Life' Is Better.

As schools all over the country and the world open their doors again, I sit on the train and find myself thinking back to the time I had been in the position. Summer has come to an end, and I was about to get back into the trot, an endless circle of getting up too early, listening to teachers, wondering if I can avoid that one girl, and need to make sure not to mention that I like this one thing that nobody else likes, or knows. That would be "soooo uncool." A lengthy day at school, would be followed by a lengthy afternoon of homework before you get a few hours for yourself.

The sentence I can relate to the least is "my school years were the best of my life" - right after "I don't like cats." And every year, I see younger people go back to school, I read the complaints, and the worst is that they do not complain about the "mountains of homework." Instead, there are complains that they do not feel smart enough.

This is just plain wrong and it hurts me so much to read things like these. At the same time it does not surprise me at all. The people who say "school were the best years of my life" were very likely either the ones who made your school years horrible or considered very smart by their teachers. They were never told "that they would have so much potential if they just tried a little harder" after being given back an average exam you studied day and night for. Or told by the popular kid "that these jeans look soooo good on you," and for a split second believing it is an honest complement before seeing her friends giggle in the background.

Then you're ranked according to your stupidity, and how well you can remember that Brussels is the capital of Belgium, or who can memorize 180 new Spanish words within a day - this is not a hyperbole. And if you're not good at memorizing? If you don't manage school, then you're rubbish, awful, really dumb, and worthless junk. This is what you're made to feel like.

In school, it does not matter if you're a creative type, or learn better "learning by doing." Nope, what doesn't hop into the brain asap, is pointless. It does not prepare you for the real life, and creativity is not something that can be capitalized (easily) so what's the point in encouraging it?

I was somewhere in the upper-middle of the intelligence scale of my class. So you'd asume that when I finished school, I was optimistic about my brain and yet, when I did finally leave did not feel smart.

School made me feel really stupid and incompetent at times. It has taken me years to build up the confidence that I am actually pretty damn smart. I freely admit that I may not be the person to ask if you want specific facts, or learning vocab by heart only. That's okay, I learn very well when you put me in front of the actual object, when you give me a sentence in a foreign language to work with, let me bounce off wild ideas and try them the next day. I need something with substance to work with.

Was any of this ever encourage or appreciated in school? No.

School were by FAR not the best years of my life. There were good moment, but all in all they were awful, and I am happy that I don't have to place a single foot in this hell-hole ever again. I could never really connect to any of my class-mates, every teacher thought their subject was the most important and gave you work to match that belief.

However, there are two teachers that I am really grateful for: one was my English teacher. The first years with this foreign language were quite pitiful, I passed but not with flying colours. Then I got a teacher who saw that I had a knack for writing, she let me experiment, and encouraged me. She thought I was good, and she was right, because when I passed my final English exam it was an A I had not even studied for. I am sure that she is one of the reasons why this blog is in English and not German.

The other was my sports science teacher. We had fun discussion in class ("Should you consider racing cars a sport?" - "How would you teach a gym class?") and if you tried a different approach she'd let you. She was never a forgiving teacher. She was hard but fair. When she saw you struggled she gave you advice, she knew how far to push you, and when a compliment came past her lips you knew she meant it.

Still, school were not happy years. It was not a nice place to be. While my life has taken more than a few unplanned twists and turns ever since I left school and university, I am happy with what I do.

I am happy with my circle of friends, and I am happy to ramble on about topics that I love without having to feel dumb. I love making people laugh with silly stories and jokes and realizing that they see the humour and that's not a matter of fact statement that I am going to be judged on later. In fact, I don't think I have ever been happier with my life.

Life does not end after school, and you're not past the best years of your life. They're just in ahead of you!


  1. I find this post fascinating. I did not learn a lot for school, so I never had grade pressure, and I actually enjoy learning now. (Admittedly, this is more of a university level of studying, then learning random things). But I hated the social interactions, the clique building and jeering at others, the need to fit in and be cool, the bullying, anxiety and name-calling.

    But I am starting to have acquaintances, who used to be sort of neutral towards school (so with neither your problems nor mine), who now look back fondly, since adult life is boring by comparison. Or maybe because they have more responsibilities with actually dangerous real-life consequences.

    Whatever their reason, I agree with you, no one should ever tell young people that school years are the best. If you're having a nice time, it'll make you dread the future, and if you're having a crap time, it'll make you even more sad. Stupid thing to say overall!

    PS: I am glad for your English teacher though, I love reading your blog! <3.

    1. Thank you for taking your time to write this lengthy comment and share your thoughts. It's interesting to read the about another point of view :)

      P.S.: Thank you :) :)


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