Is Youth Wasted On The Young?


“Youth is wasted on the young.”

It’s one of those things you may have heard a while ago. One of those… “that’s what they say” things, full of both merit and jade.

It’s an apt observation on mankind doubling as a humanistic theory on time itself.

The secret’s out: there’s a big difference between being alive and living. But could there be more to youth than simply being young? You got 3 minutes to find out?

I suppose we can start by defining “youth”. What does it really mean? I’ve already hinted that it doesn’t go hand-in-hand with just being young. Is it something more? Or better yet, something different?

Youth is being fresh and free. It’s curious, spontaneous, hopeful, and kind. It’s the energy that morphs inexperience into action. It’s unbridled, unburdened, and largely unbothered, but we all know the youth are not immune to the weight of the world.

We know that with it comes inexperience, foolishness, and a host of other clumsy things that we’re taught to shed as we age. And, if you’re like most people, in an effort to be less “clumsy” we tend to abandon our youth entirely.

As we mature and grow to become less foolish and more experienced, we sacrifice some other elements of youth too. We seem to be content to throw the baby out with the bath water — that is, until we realize we want that youth back.

But to assume that youth is wasted on the young is to assume that youth only provides value to the young, and that’s wrong. Youth is not a finite resource.

You can be just as curious, spontaneous, hopeful, and kind as you’d like at any given time.

The truth is that youth is highly attainable, no matter how young you think you are. So, who are we to lament the loss of something that never died, even if we tried to kill it?

And while we’re at it, I suppose it’s important to define young. No, I’m not talking about age either. From our first steps to death itself, life teaches us just how relative age is, so being young can’t be defined by that.

With that said, I’d like you to consider something: at this moment — the one we’re both in right now — this is the youngest either of us will ever be. So how could youth be wasted on the young if we’re all… young?!

Is it the thought that this is also the oldest we’ve ever been that stops us from realizing how young we are? If so, then one could argue the line between young and old is all about the perspective you adopt in any given moment.

Yes, you have the permission to be old as hell and young AF at the same time!

The crux of the past and the future, hindsight and hope, and the difference between being old and young all rest within our will to take control of the moment.

So that we’re on the same page so far, we know that if we simply apply the desired traits of youth to any specific moment in time, we instantly become both youthful and young by definition. They’re always both in our control, which is awesome.

Let’s move along.

And finally, on the topic of waste…

To assert that our youth is in some way wasted because we are/were young would be to devalue it’s purpose in life itself.

A man may look at a baby, youthful and void of responsibility, and envy it. This isn’t because he wants to be a baby, but rather his loathing of his current, adult responsibilities. Knowing what he knows, he can’t help but assume he’d waste less of his youth if he was given the chance to be younger — though this is untrue.

And that’s the thing about hindsight. They say its 20/20 even though it often blinds our vision of the young and youthful present we discussed above. It wants us to believe that our past youths would’ve somehow been spent better if we acted with our current selves in mind. This is dangerous not only because it’s impossible, but because we pull ourselves out of the young and youthful present once again.

It is because man doesn’t realize that he is forever young that he will waste his youth time and time again.

He first wastes it on wanting to be older, and then on wanting to be younger, never once relishing in the beauty of being both at the same time.

So, if youth is nestled in the magic of curiosity and kindness, and to be young is to be present in this moment — the youngest you’ll ever be, then the only way youth can be wasted on the young is if WE…. waste it!

And we’d never do that, would we?

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My thoughts from the worlds of Music, History, Poetry, and Culture. For lack of a wetter bird, I can show you better than I can tell you.

Atlanta, GA

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