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Friday, 29 January 2016

Wasted On the Young

George Bernard Shaw once said:

'Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world - and what a pity it has to be wasted on children!'

It was a very apt observation which has since been compressed into what is (in my opinion) the most sadly poignant sentiment I know - Youth is wasted on the young.

As a young person myself, the saying carries even more weight. I see it in way too many people who are older than myself. They look back and say they wished they could do it all again with the knowledge they have now. Those who are younger (try as they might) just won't understand the innocence and carefree lifestyle they lead until it's gone.

I know I've been guilty of it. I couldn't wait to leave high school and be rid of the torture that was assignments, detentions and expectations. I look back on some of the decisions I made and the beliefs I had and it makes me cringe violently. The worst part is that at that age, the youth believe wholeheartedly that they have life sorted out - again, a trap for which I certainly fell. Now I (and I assume others) look back on my 16-year-old self and think "You poor, misguided soul."

But let's be fair - I am really still in my youth. I feel still feel like I understand how the world works. The only difference is that I'm aware deep down that I don't. I expect to reach 35 and look back on today, chuckling, thinking "That was an idealistic part of my life." Isn't it strange how that works? We're never satisfied. When we're young, we can't wait to be older. When we're old, we wish we were younger. I can't really blame the young. They see the problems that they have to deal with - having to follow rules without understanding why, being excluded from things, having no authority etc. They see adults around them not having to deal with those problems. Of course adulthood would become appealing to them.

I have a bigger problem with the adults. Youth with wisdom is a paradox. The whole reason youth is so appealing is that it's a time we have almost no responsibility. The reason we have no responsibility is that we currently don't have the wisdom to use it. That wisdom comes from making mistakes - the kind of mistakes we're allowed to make when they affect the least amount of people. Without those mistakes, we don't have the wisdom we so highly praise.

So really, that quote is not always true. Youth can be wasted on the young. But only if - once they're old - they fail to understand the importance of their youthful ignorance. Forget "youth is wasted on the young". My new mantra is:

Adults don't appreciate adulthood.


21 comments:

  1. I have no desire to go back to my youth, adulthood has been so much more fun. What I love about growing old is that I really care much less about what people think of me. Nice post.

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    1. Thank you. That's been my favourite thing about my age - becoming more concerned with my own identity than with fitting in.

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  2. Well I have to admit you're right on point with this one!!! Im also guilty of this. I wish I could go back to high school or even my first few years after high school and do things differently.

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    1. I WOULD be the same, except I was right at the bottom of the pecking order in high school. So I have no desire to revisit that :P

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  3. Yes, youth is a delightful time of few responsibilities and being carefree. But the other reason we oldsters say that youth is wasted on the young is that, physically, nothing hurts and everything works well when you're young. Also, youth have boundless energy. Gawd, I'd kill to have some of that energy now. And I'm not even TRULY old yet! GAH!

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    1. Ah yes, I hadn't considered that. I remember the look someone gave me when he saw I was eating a whole block of chocolate just because I wanted to :P

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  4. I agree that youth does not appeal to me. There are many more challenges and frustrations, temptations, etc. than when I was a youngster. I'm enjoying life as a seasoned adult.

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    1. That's great. It's hard to accept that there's a whole great part of your life that's gone forever, but appreciating the place you're at now makes it much easier.

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  5. The things I learned, experienced, or witnessed TOTALLY formed the adult I would become. As far as my youth goes, it was a far better investment and paid off. I'm glad I made enough mistakes to finally get to the point where I would take charge and take steps NOT to make those same mistakes over and over.

    But youth was also where I developed the passion for the things that had the potential to make my life wonderfully fullfilling. Hopefully, wisdom guides all the years.

    That's one of the reasons you'll always here this weird person cheering you on in every adventure. Invest in you, right now. Reap the lifelong benefits. "Let no man despise thy youth."

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    1. Exactly, the notion of youth wasn't wasted on you at all. You know where it's at ;)

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  6. The things I learned, experienced, or witnessed TOTALLY formed the adult I would become. As far as my youth goes, it was a far better investment and paid off. I'm glad I made enough mistakes to finally get to the point where I would take charge and take steps NOT to make those same mistakes over and over.

    But youth was also where I developed the passion for the things that had the potential to make my life wonderfully fullfilling. Hopefully, wisdom guides all the years.

    That's one of the reasons you'll always here this weird person cheering you on in every adventure. Invest in you, right now. Reap the lifelong benefits. "Let no man despise thy youth."

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  7. I don't know whether I am a kid or an adult. I know I don't have anything figured out, though, and I have little hope of ever figuring most of it out. Ever.

    I wouldn't mind being old, although I don't look forward to bifocals and having to calculate how to get up out of a chair.

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    1. Hahaha yes old age is going to be a great unknown to me. We could be lucky and be one of those adults that's healthy for a long time. Or we could deteriorate. There's no way of knowing.

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  8. That's right - very little responsibility. Little did we know what jobs and mortgages and bills were really like.
    I didn't spend too much time yearning to be older. I did wish I looked my age. That still hasn't happened, but I'm all right with it now.

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    1. Have you always looked younger or older than you are?

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  9. I think that you start enjoying life the day you acknowledge that you don't know as much as you think you know: but you stay willing to keep learning.

    I don't think you get old until you stop listening to new music. I refuse to let it happen! Not yet! I'm not ready! No, take your greatest hits album AWAY!!!

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    1. Oh dear, I fail in that regard completely. The oldest album I own is from 2004 :P

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  10. Youth is definitely a state of mind. We both look young, feel young, act young (if there is such a thing). And like some of the others, I'm so glad to be rid of the high school years. I had no money. I had no freedom. I had no lady to share it with. I'm definitely where I want to be right now. I'm 32 and only looking forward, not back.

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    1. That's great to hear. Those who wish they could be back in high school probably hit their peak there.

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