I think “betrayal” is the best way to sum up what we had felt back then. This was probably because we, or at least I, had never expected this period to reflect myself to be at my best wits. This period, when each upcoming quiz, paper, team project and exam advanced on me as a strain to my ability to speed through a book and grasp it at the same time, capacity for memorization, pool of originality, and the critical eye. Having considered pursuing English literature further at graduate school, I remember going home feeling pretty depressed that my intelligence at its best had nothing more spectacular to reveal and dejected with a bleak picture of how much I would struggle in the years to come.
Nearly a year and a half later, I still muse about those words, but they ring a different tone than they used to. These days, I am starting to realize that since I am at the smartest I will ever be, I should take this chance to explore the sea of visible and invisible choices laid out before me, and push myself to test my limits. Only after have I done justice to me at my best will I have a substance on which I can construct experience in the coming years and use to mature further. In other words, the wiser self I had imagined of my future does not come free; it is fruited from the endeavors of my heyday.
So, really, what my professor said was just another reendition of the cliche all of us are familiar with already, that we should not be afraid to try new things or suffer a little, and other messages along the same line. This time, however, she gave us a good reason: not because we are supposedly passionate due to our youth, but because we are at the smartest point of our lives.