Friday, December 01, 2006

Are you dreaming about being a school kid again?

When I think back to my time at school ... I'm really happy about the fact that it's over, because I didn't have such a nice time at school, being mobbed for about a year and usually a loner - though that was my own doing and wanted.

I know that, as a grown-up in the modern world with lots of stress and other bad things (like unemployment or - provided you're female - sexual harassment, though the latter has passed me by completely), I should look back at my time in school and think "wouldn't it be nice to be a student again". But when I look back at my time in school, I rarely think that. It wasn't as dreadful as it could be today - school has surely gotten rougher since I left -, but still it wasn't a nice time for me.

That wasn't even because of school as a such, but going back to school would also mean going back to adolescence - and which person with more than one brain cell does really want to do that. Yes, I know, a lot of people look back, only seeing the nice sides, and think of the teenage-years as "the best time of my life".

If I had to go back to my past, I would go back to my time at university, the year after I'd changed from computer science to literature. Life was relatively carefree, the courses were interesting and I had found my little niche in the wild life of university.

Those years between the end of school and the beginning of work life were great - because I was at the same time still somehow protected and free. I was legally and adult and could more or less do whatever I wanted. I could drive a car, I could stay out as long as I wanted and I could really enjoy life. It's a lot easier to enjoy life after a day or week at university - especially if you're a fast learner like me - than to enjoy it after a day of eight work hours or a week of forty. This short time span between the teenage years and the real adulthood with my own, ever-changing job would be my favourite time to go back to.

But then, what do people see as so great about going back to their time in school? What does a teenager have that's so great you want to have it again? It surely isn't the teenage body with it's brimming hormones and the pieces that don't fit together that well. It surely isn't the teenage mind, always torn between 'what your parents tell you', 'what your friends think is cool' and 'what you have to do to survive'. And for most people it surely isn't school either.

Yes, maybe my look at the glorious world of the teenager is a wee little bit tainted by my own bad experiences, but I really doubt I was the only one going through all of this. Fact is, a teenager doesn't have as many rights as it would want. A teenager doesn't have as much influence as it could deem necessary. Your parents, your teachers and your classmates seem to have more influence on your own life than you have yourself. Your parents can ground you for as long as they wish (though my parents hardly deemed it necessary, as I spent most time in my room anyway), your teachers can give you detention for the least bit of rebellion against their system and your classmates decide what's in and out in class. Freedom comes later, once you've passed your eighteenth birthday, your final exam and have left your parents behind to live in your place.

If I should hazard a guess - and this being my post in my blog, what do you think I will do, honestly - I would say the main reason for most people to glorify this time of their life is our ideal of the 'carefree childhood', of the time before the 'real life'. We forget about the bad things we've gone through and only remember the good things. And who knows? Maybe I will think like that myself in a couple of years, once I'm 40 ... or 50 ... or 60. Sooner or later you forget a lot about your past and then, maybe, you start thinking of childhood and adolescence as the best time of your life... I will have to wait and see.

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