It's hard to live in a society where youth is valued above all else. Youth is associated with being more fun, more free, more lively and everything else in between.
Products line the shelves to help people look and feel young, and the media and music willingly add to this culture. Everyone is young and beautiful. So, by time you hit 30, the world has made it seem as if there's nothing else left for you.
There's a huge problem with this. This is not only true for older people who can and should continue to live their lives, but also for people like me: the young.
When everyone around you views being young as a virtue, it becomes hard to get excited for the future, especially when the future is the only thing you can really think of. It's hard when everyone and everything is an ode to your younger years.
You start to think, "Well damn, is this it? Is being young really all we have to live for? Is this really the highlight of my life?"
There's so much more to life.
In your 20s, you truly are a baby. You're just getting started. So, when everyone praises your youth, it makes you wonder, "Is life after youth so terrible? Do I have nothing left to look forward to? Does it not get any better?"
It does get better. So why in the world do we romanticize being young?
All people swear they would kill to be in their 20s again. But why? What exactly is it about being young that is so sought after? Youth is nothing but a constant state of change.
Maybe that's what makes youth exciting: the idea that you have your whole life ahead of you. There's the idea that you can do anything you set your mind to do. You could drop everything to backpack through Europe, and it would be OK because you're not married. You don't have children, and there's nothing stopping you from going.
Maybe it's eating a whole box of pizza and not worrying about your waistline or cholesterol. Maybe it's being able to go out on a Tuesday and stay up until 5am, but still being able to make it through the workday by pounding a Red Bull or two. Maybe that's what we're chasing after when we think of youth.
Except that's not what youth is.
Youth is a constant state of instability. It's a nose dive off a cliff. You spend most of your time having no idea what you're doing.
Youth is changing jobs every year, maybe even every few months. You're always in the constant state of starting something new. It's never having a permanent address because you have no idea where you'll be or what you'll be doing next year.
It can make even the simplest adult things seem challenging. Where do you register to vote if you have no idea where you'll be living come November? How many states do you have to file your taxes in because you have a job at school and a job at home, plus an internship you had in another state?
Being young is being stupid because you are stupid. You don't know anything.
But people will expect you to know it all. If you do something wrong, they'll blame your youth. But when you do something new and exciting, your youth will be the only reason why you did it.
Being young, in a sense, is always having at least one foot still in your parents' house because you truthfully can't do your own laundry, cook or fill a tire with air on your own. Youth is stressful.
It's making new friends every single year because every year, either your friends leave or you do. Nothing stays the same, and nothing will for years.
All these people think they want to be young, fresh and free. But the young people would just kill for some stability: stability like always knowing where your next paycheck is coming from, always having an address to call home and always having friends.
Maybe people grow tired of those schedules over time. Maybe they get over working 9-to-5, driving the same car and living in the same house.
But people grow tired of chaos too. Youth is chaos: unstable, everlasting, constant chaos. So, when we romanticize youth, we forget how difficult that stage of life actually is.
Youth is filled with uncertainty in every way. You don't even know who you are yet. You're still finding yourself as a person, and you're testing how well you fit in the universe.
There are still questions to be asked and identities to shape. Your youth is what starts to form who you are as a person. Are you religious? Do you want to be a parent? Is money important to you? What do you believe?
There are still so many things about yourself that you need to figure out. The deeper questions get pushed back into chaos as you try to answer the simple ones.
Where are you living next year? How are you going to pay off your student loans? How are you going to make money? How long can you make the $36.17 in your bank account last?
I'm still young. But when I think about being any younger, I realize I don't want to go back. It's easy to remember the good times. It's hard to remember the reality of the situation: the awkwardness, the lack of confidence and the trying to fit in. The more you age and the more you grow, the more you gain.
When we romanticize youth, we don't think about what youth really is or how much we've learned along the way. We may carry nostalgia for our memories, but do we really want to live in those moments forever?
Being 16 and driving on your own for the first time. Being 18 and voting in your first election. Being 21 and not knowing a Long Island iced tea doesn't have iced tea in it. Graduating from college and not having a job yet. Starting a new job and not knowing where you fit in the company. Not knowing if you chose the right career. Not knowing if your career is going anywhere. Being on your own for the first time, and still not knowing what you're doing.
Does anyone really, truly want to be young forever? Or are we simply just too young to understand?