Sickness of Youth
They say youth is wasted on the young. But in order for something to be wasted, if has to be valuable. A person can waste money, because it is hard to earn and easy to squander. A person can waste time, because we need time to do valuable things. A person can waste food. Food is one of the most valuable things of all. Without it we would die. But in order to say that youth is wasted, you must establish that youth is valuable.
I say youth is overrated. It can’t be wasted, because it is worthless. Youth provides a person with boundless energy, but young people are surrounded by boundaries, so that energy just becomes frustration. A youthful person can act without fear of consequences, but that is just because they are missing vital information, and are too young to be able to know it. For youthful people, small problems can seem like disasters. Without experience, all problems become huge problems, but only because you haven’t seen them before.
Youth is more like a sickness than a benefit. And the symptoms of youth that last the longest are the worst. You don’t have to be young to be a youthful person. We all grow old, but we don’t all grow up. People who are infected with youth focus on all the things they want from the world. They want to go places, see things, meet people. This is fine for a while, but most of us grow out of it. A youthful person will make themselves sick wanting things, and never focus on what they already have.
People caught in the grip of youth want to change the world. They want everything and everyone around them to be better, to live up to childish expectations. This is not such a bad thing, but youth corrupts this vision. A youthful person wants to change the world, but doesn’t want the world to change them.
Youthful people are obsessed with respect. Why should they have to change? Why can’t the world just respect their lifestyle and leave them alone? This is perfectly reasonable, when seen from but one perspective. Youthful people are bad at seeing things from other perspectives. They want to be free. They want to be noticed They want to be loud. And they don’t want to be stifled for any reason. Youthful people demand respect for their lifestyle, even if that lifestyle is disrespectful to, or causes problem for other people.
And so we reach the worst symptom of youth, and the one that lasts the longest. Youthful people are delusional. They think they are special. They think they are important. But everyone is special and important, which really makes us all just normal. And that is ok. Youthful people have yet to learn this. Or they don’t want to.
Youth is essentially the same thing as immaturity. Of what value is immaturity? Beyond romantic notions of innocence, immaturity is a terrible thing. Do lions and gazelles value immaturity? Of course not. An immature gazelle gets eaten, and an immature lion eats too much.
Youth is like a sickness. Thankfully, the cure is available to us all. And you don’t even need health insurance or anything!
Time and experience are the cure to youth and immaturity. But only if you are actually taking the medicine. There are 80-year-olds who have had more time and experiences than anyone, but none of it took. They are still as immature as a teenager. This is not only a burden for the people around them, but just flat-out disappointing.
Plenty of people don’t want to grow up. Plenty of addicts don’t want to get help. Who knows what Peter Pan could have accomplished if he had gone home, gotten a job, and participated like the rest of us. It might be fun to fight pirates all day, but what good does it accomplish? What value is there in never growing up?
There may be power in youth. Strength in immaturity. But is is not noble power, or innocent strength. Reveling in youth will not save you from death.
Everybody dies, whether they grow up or not. You might as well accomplish something. Become a tree, instead of remaining an acorn. People don’t waste youth. Youth wastes people.