Time Flies Whether You’re Having Fun or Not

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” —Harvey MacKay

“Time flies when you’re having fun!”

It’s an age-old idiom we’ve all heard someone say at least a thousand times—our parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, etcetera. Sometimes it is used seriously, but other times the phrase is uttered to sarcastically describe an instance which was anything but enjoyable.

Throughout high school, I have found that time truly does fly by when I’m having a good time. I meet my friends for dinner at 6:30 in the evening, and the next thing I know, it’s 1:00 am, I’m still with them, and my parents are calling wondering where in the world I am (and what I’m doing and who I’m with and whether or not we’re getting into trouble). Senior trip—a weekend getaway with my graduating class at the beginning of the school year—went by fast. Christmas break—two weeks with little homework and ample time to spend with friends and family—went by fast. Band tour—five days travelling and bonding with friends of all ages—went by fast. Prom—a night I’d been looking forward to for half the school year—went by fast.

Yes, time certainly does fly right on by when I’m having fun—that is one lesson I have, without a doubt, learned over the past four years. But something else I’ve learned? Time flies whether I’m having fun or not.

High school was, as a whole, a good ride. I formed quite a few great friendships, did pretty well academically, and made a lot of memories I’ll never forget. But I’m not going to lie: individual parts of it and specific moments were not fun at all. Some were boring, some were frustrating, and some—now that I look back—were laughably stupid. And although there were some days that seemed to drone on and on, and some weeks seemed to never end, the past four years of my life really have flown by. “Don’t blink,” my dad always says, “next thing you know, you’ll be graduating college, then getting married and having kids!” All of that, of course, seems entirely crazy, and honestly, the thought of marriage or kids (or even graduating college) is completely beyond me right now. I know my dad’s right, though, because that’s what he said my freshman year of high school, too—”Don’t blink, Kim. Soon you’ll be 16 with a driver’s license, then 18 and graduating high school!” As a 14-year-old high school freshman, I had rolled my eyes and laughed. “That’s a long time away,” I would always dismiss nonchalantly before turning back to my Algebra homework. “I don’t even wanna think about it.” But now, with my high school graduation on the horizon (tomorrow’s horizon, actually), I’m forced to think about it. Now, in my last summer of “normal” high school life as I know it, I’m just starting to realize how much of the last four years slipped by without me really even noticing. How many things—even things this year—did I take for granted and let pass by with hardly a second thought? Some of this year, as I said, really wasn’t fun at all; but in retrospect, the negative moments passed just as quickly as the positive ones. Sure, the fun times—like senior trip and band tour and adventures with friends—passed by quickly, but so did the not-so-fun times: stressful exams and friend troubles and problems I thought, at the time, would trouble me forever. Time does not discriminate in its passing habits—there are, after all, only 24 hours in a day, and regardless of what I choose to do with those hours, the time will pass the same as it always has (and always will).

In four years that will undoubtedly fly by faster than I care to imagine, my 22-year-old college graduate self will look back on my 18-year-old self and laugh. But for now, I’m just going to proceed with the really cliché and overly-used phrase, “live in the moment,” because that, I’ve found, is truly the only way to lead a fulfilling life. If we are too focused on regretting the past or stressing about the future, we miss so many of the little, beautiful things God blesses us with. Every day is a gift, and whether it’s fun or not, time truly does fly by.

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