Youth Is Not Wasted On The Young

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Though George Bernard Shaw was the first person to say this,
an adult I met the other day brought up the subject that,
“Youth is wasted on the young.”
He proceeded to say, "No offense, but what I mean,
is that children and young people waste their youth doing
youthful things of little use, and those who are mature enough
to do useful things have little youth remaining to do them.
There’s no use for the youth to be young”.
Then he sat back on his haunches, leaned his chin onto his hand,
and cocked his head waiting for my supposedly "childish" response.
 
I looked at him right in the eye and felt pity for his lack of understanding.
You wanna know what I think?
Being young isn’t about having full understanding of the world and all its knowledge or being able to do calculus at the age of three or knowing what is beneficial for the future.
 
Being young is about falling asleep, having your father carry you up to your bed, and waking up in the middle of the night knowing you’re safe and sound.
 
Being young are those old class field trips that required long bus rides to the museum where all the “cool kids” sat in the back and made faces at passing cars.
 
Being young was when Santa Claus was real and you would take some blankets and your brother and camp out next to the fireplace hoping to catch a glimpse of the jolly old man but you always fell asleep before you could.
 
Being young was thinking you could be anything when you grew up, whether it be a superhero, a princess, or Lady Gaga.
 
Being young is having your mom come home to you covered in Spongebob band-aids because guess who found the first aid kit..
 
Being young was drawing and writing everything with crayons and hoping that Uncle Sherman bought you that Crayola Crayon set that had 96 different colored crayons.
 
Being young was thinking all the boys had cooties in front of your friends but they all knew you had a crush on Billy.
 
Being young was fighting with your best friend because she got to be the line-leader on the way to the cafeteria… but making up three minutes later because she had a Barbie lunchbox too.
 
Being young was being able to make anything out of everything with your imagination. The monkeybars was a castle, the swings were a fortress, and the woodchips were lava.
 
Being young is finding gum underneath the lunch table (or under the subway rail like in Elf) and being fascinated instead of grossed out because “how in the world did that get there?” And if you were like Buddy as a kid, you might’ve even plucked a piece of gum off and plopped it in your mouth because why not. 
 
Being young is laying on the ground in the food court of the mall, sobbing, kicking, and possibly biting anyone that comes within two feet of you because mom says she won’t buy you McDonald’s just so you can have the little Minnie Mouse toy.
 
Being young is walking away with a red tear-streaked face as mom huffs in exasperation behind you as you hold the toy.
 
Being young was standing apart from the herd and doing what was right without anyone telling you when you stood up for the girl that was being bullied just because her socks didn’t match.
 
Being young was having that girl become your best friend and knowing you found your partner-in-crime as you both waltz around, arms linked, singing Disney songs at the top of your lungs.
 
Being young is the trip to grandma’s every Saturday and the smell of her freshly made cookies as you run into the kitchen before your siblings and seat yourself first at the table.
 
Being young is having a nightmare and running into mom and dad’s room knowing they’ll let you sleep in-between them because they won’t let the monsters get you.
 
Being young was desperately wanting to be a teenager and feeling the rush of delight when you entered the double digits of 10.
 
Being young was having the future an eternity away and living in the moment, at that hour, at that minute, was all that mattered.
 
People say children don’t recognize or enjoy the things that really matter in life,
but to that kid, what really mattered in life at that moment was that chocolate bar.
If that was enough for the kid, why was it a waste?
Yes, the youth are pretty ignorant sometimes, but being young was the blissful ignorance of youth.
Being young was not knowing how big the world was outside, not knowing how precarious and unpredictable life can be, but just living in simplicity and bliss as you sit outside in the grass eating a 50-cent ice cream cone.
 
Being young is not a waste. It’s a waste when people forget what it was like to be young. So I’m not sorry to say, that youth is not wasted on the young. 

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