I can’t tell you how many times I hear that phrase during the course of my conversations with working adults. Just the mention of my being a college student clouds their eyes with warm memories of their years sleeping until noon and living with few cares in the world.
I think the reason people enjoy college so much is because students have so few responsibilities. Up until college, everything you do is monitored by your parents. Once you get a diploma, your schedule is dictated by your boss, and your freedom is limited by obligations to spouse and family. Those four years of bliss are unregulated, spontaneous, and memorable.
As fun as it is though, let me tell you, I don’t consider college to be the time of my life.
High school was the time of my life. I plan on marriage being the time of my life, and retirement, well, that too. Just like in the “real world,” college has its own set of stresses—making decisions that will chart the course of your future isn’t easy.
What defines college is what you do outside of the work. It’s the late night breakfast runs, the paint-smeared football faces, the random dance parties, and the spontaneous weekend trips. It’s who you are with and the impact you make on each other’s lives that define your college experience.
So why doesn’t that carry over to people’s life outside of college? Why do people retreat to recollections of days gone by instead of going out and doing something spontaneous?
I’ll admit it is more difficult for you working adults. In college, there were hundreds of opportunities waiting within your campus community, but now, you have to go out and find them. You have to seek out organizations to be involved with and recreational leagues to play in.
My advice is don’t focus so much on money and titles—you had neither in college. Focus on the things that matter and build relationships with people who matter.
Life is what you make it. If college was the time of your life, it’s because you made it that way.
I heard a wise leader say recently, “Always aim for your future to be even better than your past.” Now that is the mark of a dreamer.
I don’t plan on just enjoying my undergraduate years or just enjoying my life once I’m married and have kids. Joy is not something you find during certain stages of your life—it’s an attitude you choose.
Be spontaneous with your co-workers, stay up really late watching old movies on a Tuesday, and take a weekend camping trip with your husband. Make the time of your life right now!
So, yes, next time I run into you in the store, I will smile in agreement as you tell me how memorable college is. But please also tell me that you, too, are having the time of your life…wherever you are.