It's a depressing thought.
When I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had a choice
I'd always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life
— Bryan Adams
, Summer of 69
You're in high school again!
You're miserable. You're unpopular. Your erstwhile Best Friend Forever just got a glance from Alpha Bitch
and charged off to join the Girl Posse
without a backwards glance. The Jerk Jock
is harrassing you to prove that Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb
. You have too much homework and you've put it off too late. You have no time and no qualification to make money, so you can afford noithing. Most of your little money is spent to keep you in the hellhole which your high school is.
So your parents burble, "These are the best years of your life!"
frequently deployed by nostalgic adults
, who want to think that Growing Up Sucks
but childhood was good. Generally indicates that Adults Are Useless
, as few if any stories exist where the adults are actually right to say this. When an adult is reflecting on the best years of his
life, the trope is Glory Days
. (Overlap is likely.)
The only person for whom this is actually true is the Future Loser
/Japanese culture equivalent is seishun
(springtime of your youth). Generally played even more melodramatically (and parodied all
And besides, whoever it was first said that school days are the best days of your life clearly never went to school or saw the show
open/close all folders
- In Vice Versa, the overbearing, stuffy father says something like this, and wishes he were a schoolboy again. Unfortunately for him, he's holding a magic Indian stone that grants wishes.
- The movie Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål) has an inversion, which somehow has the exact same horrible effect. Agnes' father tries to be understanding, and says she shouldn't worry — things won't always be this bad, you'll be a lot happier in twenty or thirty years...
- Even the low end of that wait is more than double Agnes's current age (she's 16), so it would seem like an eternity. Also, the wording makes it sound like things won't improve until she's in her mid-thirties or later. Between the two, that's plenty of reason for a teenager to despair.
- Much of Dazed and Confused shows how decidedly un-idyllic high school was for the characters in the film. Nevertheless, its release in 1993 was the first inkling of a wave of 70s fashion and music nostalgia in the 90s amongst young people in the United States...
- Used by the narrator's stepfather in Space Station Seventh Grade, though the narrator can think of several reasons why being twelve sucks.
- In the Stephen King novel Lisey's Story, one of Lisey's sisters comments to Lisey that they want to get together like "the good old days"; Lisey has flashbacks to her sisters treating her like crap.
- In the book Friday Night Lights: the narrator thinks this will be the case for many of the football players, who are heroes of the school and the whole town in high school, but most of whom will spend their days in an oil field following graduation.
Live Action TV
- Lois the mother on Malcolm in the Middle. Although occasionally she would flip flop and tell Malcolm that being a kid sucks but it would all get better later.
- Summed up by Rab C. Nesbitt: "School days? Best days of your life, if you are a fucking sadomasochist!"
- Cruelly, cruelly mocked by The Onion here.
- At Everything2: Life does not end at high school.
- The Surviving the World blog has this to say: "If the best years of your life were in high school, I hope for your sake you died tragically at nineteen."
- The Loner's Journey blog has a post 30 Things I learned in school. Number 19 states "Anyone whoever said 'High School is the best time of your life' should be convicted with assisting suicide and get mental help. Immediately."
- Cracked.com mocked and deconstructed this trope in several different articles.
- John Cheese in particular seems to hate this phrase, noting the insanity of telling someone dealing with peer pressure, relationship problems, anxiety, raging uncertainty and, in many unfortunate cases, mental illness that can lead to suicidal thoughts that Their lives are only going to get worse. While he has written other articles stating that high school makes it easy to succeed a lot and that there are many things to watch out for as You get older, things can and do get much better because You gain freedom to decide Your own fate and are no longer bound by anyone else's mistakes or rules. His article 5 Reasons Life Actually Does Get Better informed teens that, while They may feel that They can't survive High school, They will and things will improve.
- Daria and Jane once reflected on the dreadful likelihood of this. (It seemed less dreadful after some Comedic Sociopathy a moment later.)
- With a Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad spin in the Wacky Races episode "Race To Racine," after Muttley sabotages Dick Dastardly when he supposed to sabotage the Ant Hill Mob, Dastardly opines "And after giving him the worst years of my life...where did I go wrong?"
- Truth in Television: Parents say this all the time to high school kids.
- People often say this to elementary schoolers and below too.
- This phrase, often verbatim, will show up almost every high-school graduation season, in things like ads congratulating the current graduating class. No one ever seems to notice the fact that you're saying the best years of your life A) likely weren't that great and B) just ended.
- Which really makes you wonder, "If the best years of your life have already ended, then what exactly are you living for now?"
- Recently, the trope has been inverted with the "It gets better" project, which promises gay students that their school years won't be the best years of their life.
- "The best two years of my life" is something of a Stock Phrase among returned Mormon missionaries. You can almost distinguish Mormons who have been on a mission from those who haven't by their reaction to this phrase. Those who haven't will typically consider the phrase to be too much of a cliché to be used seriously. Returned missionaries might agree, but then they'll get that slight smile and far off look in their eyes...