Why youth has no age
After reposting a company-related content on LinkedIn today, I received a message from a long lost friend on WhatsApp. He noticed my picture featured along with my quote, applying a keen focus on the apparent greys in my crown. (After all, you must flaunt what you’ve earned as long as it leaves no carbon footprint behind.) The last time we two met, more than a decade ago, we had youth on our side, and we probably thought we’d never get old. While I am fast greying at the age of 35, he is balding one realization a day, we both agree that time can be relentless. Just a few weeks ago, we didn’t know what social distancing meant. A lot of us still don’t. And that might explain why this pandemic overstayed its welcome.
Anyhow, coming back to the crux of the subject at hand, let’s talk about a special phase of your life today. That thing you have when you are not capable of fully appreciating. That thing you appreciate when it's on its way out of the door. Of course, youth is a state of mind. If you feel young and healthy, you are set. However, rust is slow to act but drills deep. Precisely what happens with the passage of our salad days. We don’t acknowledge it even though the drama is unfolding right in front of our mirror.
For what it’s worth, some of us keep ourselves occupied with work as we genuinely believe that doing something fruitful is more important than anything else. We have a codename for this social experiment too: career. In a lot of millennial cases, a job is given a lot of emphasis. So much so one’s life revolves around it. On paper, you’d say that you have a 9-to-5 commitment to something that helps you pay bills and visit Vietnam once, but in practice, you spend upwards of two hours only on commuting, not to mention the post-office dilly-dallying with pending work.
In other words, you work for your job, not the other way around. Which could be the reason why, at the peak of COVID-19, we felt a strange relief being cocooned in our little houses, not having to visit our workplaces. This despite the fact that the boundaries between personal lives and professional lives were completely blurred. Earlier, you escaped home by seeing your colleagues and vice versa. Work-from-home changed the whole paradigm and we didn’t flinch. None of us did. Youth is perhaps too big a price to pay for a career.
On the other hand, for reasons unbeknownst to us, we leverage our youth in ways we can’t comprehend. When we are doing something, we aren’t aware of the time passing. When we are sitting idle, the paint dries very, very, very slowly. The meaning of life remains hidden in whatever purpose we choose for ourselves. There is a reason why doing makes us feel accomplished while worrying (not thinking) drains us out.
As we grow older, we become acquainted with our arrogance about things we don’t need to understand. Ignorance is a conditioned bliss, you see? All the time we’ve wasted so far and all the time we are going to waste going forward amount to nothing in particular.
Our youthful fantasies started wearing out faster than our jeans and the perfume of our so-called fresh ideas didn’t last long enough. As ironic as it is, our overconfidence kept us sane. We looked around and observed other people and how they spoke and what they ate and how they behaved and how uncool they were and we happily presumed that we are exponentially better. No mass verdict was required.
It goes without saying that youth is overrated unless you are planning to stay forever. Even the immortals don’t stick around. If there is indeed a fountain of wisdom, each one of us has pissed in it. The greys in our hair belie the notion that we don’t really change—not as a person, not as an individual. We remain entrenched in gift-wrapping time, assuming that we’ve learned how to play our existence out. Even before the question presents itself, we are sure about our preordained answers. Nobody can teach us anything anymore. Maybe we are the true victims of youth.
Lastly, George Bernard Shaw once suggested that youth is wasted on youth. But then I wonder, what else should it be wasted on?