Just shy of a decade ago, I was in college taking classes. Today, I’m in graduate school taking classes. Not much has changed, right? On the contrary, so much has changed! I feel great now and am (kind of, probably) “better” now than I was as an 18-to-22-year-old. Some things just get better with age!
When you were a teen or in college, how many times did you hear people say, this is as good as it’s going to get! or these are the best four years of your life!? While such utterances are made to encourage the listener to enjoy their few short years of blissful, youthful liberation, I always translate these lines in my head to mean — it’s all going suck from here!
If you are fortunate enough to take part in a full-time college situation, you will experience a period of life unlike any other (unless you went to boarding school, I suppose). You live with friends and classmates. Your ID card opens worlds for you— libraries, fitness and student centers, stadiums, laboratories. You conduct trade in your own currency (dinning dollars anyone??). You can “rush” fraternities, sororities, and join all the clubs you can fit into your schedule. Maybe you work on campus, maybe you work with friends off campus — maybe you don’t have to work at all! You party, you drink (too much), you experiment, you eat pizza at midnight (or 2 am 😉 ). Fellowships and scholarships of all kinds are open to you. Study abroad, internships, work-study, co-ops, opportunities left and right and left again! You live in a bubble and that’s okay.
University is a fitting word. It comes from the Latin “universitas,” meaning “whole.” In this academic universe filled with lecturers, faculty, research, resources, networks, connections, scholastic and extra-curricular activities — you, the undergraduate, are the heart, the breath, and the mitochondria that animates, inspires, and sustains the whole ensuring that it lives on ad infinitum.
Yeah, universities don’t treat graduate students the way they treat their undergraduates, but that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, college is a special time, but it is not the only special time. Now, a few years older and more experienced, I have come to appreciate the beautiful things and knowledge that were inaccessible to me as mere ingénue.
Here are some things that get better after the “best four years of your life”:
- Facial recognition ability peaks in one’s early 30s
- Car insurance rates get cheaper after 25
- Peak long distance running performance for marathoners (26.1 miles) and ultramarathoners (>26.1 miles) is 30 to 40 years old.
- You can run for president at 35!
- Ability to concentrate is at its best performance in one’s early 40s
- Comprehension skills (understanding general information) is highest at around 50
- Levels of stress (that are higher for people in their 20’s and 40s) begin to drop off in one’s 50s
- Ability to make good financial decisions is best in one’s early 50s…that might influence who you get your stock tips from….
- Studies show that people are more agreeable and happier through one’s 60s
- You can access social security benefits!
- Vocabulary skills have shown to peak in one’s late 60s and early 70s
- Wisdom! The older you are the wiser you are (…shocker…)
No offense to 18-22-year-olds, but a lot of you can be reckless and impulsive! (Yes, I’m also drawing on my booze-fueled experiences.) So many beautiful things happen when our brains just calm the f*** down. We have more positive life experiences, develop greater empathy, we’re more self-confident, and we’re better storytellers. We’re also more likely to fall in love, get married, have children, make “real” money, and travel (if that’s what we want to do). Studies show that older individuals are less influenced by tactics of persuasion and have better sense of their own preferences. In short, we have a better idea of who we are and what makes us happy. You can’t learn everything in a college classroom and most of the best things come after anyway.
Wishing you good times at any age!