Youth Is Wasted On The Young: Why We're So Insecure In Our 20s

by Sophia Wu

We’ve heard people tell us how our 20s are the prime of our lives. At this age, we look our best and we have our whole lives ahead of us.

We have roughly 10 to 20 years before wrinkles start to form around our eyes, our backs become less slender and smooth, and our necks and faces adopt slight sags.

We aren’t yet wrought with ideas of what we could have done or should have done. Our lives are still in motion, not quite set in where we live and with whom we end up.

Our skin is tight and our lives are essentially blank slates waiting to be written on, but why does so much insecurity plague us?

You rarely hear of people in their 40s and 50s snooping through their significant others’ text messages, pretending to not care about someone they do, or Facebook-stalking their exes.

There’s the expression that “youth is wasted on the young,” and to what extent is that true? I fear losing my youth because I take it for granted.

Being a Millennial, I get so caught up with my life and my insecurities, about the next person with whom I’ll hook up and which group dinner I’ll head to next. It will get to the point that I’ll forget the fact I will inevitably age and lose all the gifts youth brings to me. Youth is all I have known, and I’m afraid for the next step.

My passport photo was taken at age 20 and the next time I’ll take it, I’ll be the dreaded 30. When I’m at that age, I may look back and only see the surplus of time I spent in my 20s feeling insecure when I shouldn’t have because I had everything.

My mother, who is 45, tells me she is the happiest she’s ever been in her whole life, as her 20s were an intense time of confusion and insecurity. I often wonder why we seldom find inner happiness or calm confidence in our early 20s.

We’re lost, figuring out which direction to take with our careers, and spending our days sitting around, watching Netflix for hours on an end.

We delay our text messages to the people we like; we’re afraid to say how we feel, and we spend hours ruminating on the stupid things we said last night. We’re young and beautiful, but we’re not spending our time constructively when we allow it to be rooted in self-doubt and anxiety.

Why are we wasting our time this way? It’s true that our culture tends to put youth and beauty on a pedestal.

It’s also true that our 20s are a time for figuring ourselves out. Yet, it’s hard for me to not believe we spend a majority of our 20s worrying about people and things that ultimately don’t matter.

Our generation’s mantra is to not give a f*ck, but it’s the last thing we feel when we’re self-conscious of what people think of us.

It prevents us from finding the self-love and acceptance we deserve. Most of us won’t attain that until we are well into adulthood, but it feels like we need it the most in our twenties.

We live our lives as if they were permanent entities, and we forget that everything is temporary.

The softness of our skin, the sleek agility in how we move and the brightness in our eyes will all disappear in time, but so will some of the most mundane insecurities we face every day.

Life is a give and take, and I wish I didn’t have to exchange youth and beauty for true confidence and happiness. I wonder if it's narcissistic or entitled of me to want it all at the same time, or if it even is possible.

After all, what is holding us back from finding that sense of serenity?

I think we should take more initiative to recognize how lucky we are to be in our 20s. We shouldn’t dwell over the guy or girl who never texted us back and subsequently wonder what’s wrong with us. Instead, we should focus on what is right with us and what makes us great how we are.

But, of course, it’s hard not to get caught up over the little things, especially because, despite our college degrees and bits of wisdom we’ve accumulated in our years thus far, we are still vulnerable and inexperienced.

I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that having confusion and insecurity is a rite of passage in the maturation process. But, I think we can limit the time we dwell on such insecurity by realizing that everything we are and everything we have is temporary.

Youth and beauty are wonderful things, and we should spend our time utilizing these assets in the best way we can before they all fade into memories of the people we used to be.