Youth is Wasted on the Young

I always thought this quote was kind of funny and peculiar, I always thought it reeked of envy; yet I secretly wished I could somehow join this exclusive club, whose right of passage was simply the passing of time, to gain a deeper understanding of it. I was born in '81, just at the cusp of what they're calling Gen-Y; hell, I graduated H.S. in 2000 so that kind of makes me the official first wave of millennials huh? Well, that means I'll be 27 this year and closer to 30 than to 20, so I recently had my first youth is wasted on the young moment. I was making my way to the radio station (on campus) and it was around that time of year when all of the freshmen and sophomores (i.e. the youngin's) were clearing out of the dorms; I saw a group of really young one's (it's crazy how obviously young people look in their late teens/early twenties) lallygagging outside, all care free and purple haired as they want, and I thought to myself "those bastards don't know how good they have it!" That's because I was running late and all stressed out because I was doing the radio Saturday evenings, working 40+ hours a week, and going to grad school on weeknights all at the same time: I was self admittedly envious of the fact that they had no pressing matters, they had no monkey on their back flinging poo at ever turn of life. As far as they were concerned, all they had to do was worry about getting their crap out by some arbitrary cutoff day.

Then I had to take a step back away from the situation and slap myself in the face to bring myself back to reality. By the time I finished my undergrad I'd been to Beijing, Taiwan (twice), lived on the east coast, lived on the west coast, fallen in love, gotten my heart broken, partied a lot, made wonderful wonderful friends... Long story short, I had a really sweet, kick-ass time in college.

The lesson learned is that life is wasted on the living.

It is every person's responsibility to live life right now. I think the author's heart was in the right place when he coined this phrase, but I think he lets himself and generations of people off the hook by placing the blame on a risk free (and therefore reward free) life on the naiveté of youth. I also have to give credit where credit is due; perhaps the genius of this quote is that young people will hear it and take a moment to reflect on their lives and, in an attempt to spite the generation that proceeds them, get up and actually do something with their lives.

One can only hope.

Posted on June 10, 2008 and filed under Gen-Y, wisdom.