Dear World, Guard Thy Young For They Are Lost
Posted on August 4th, 2011
Being young is hard.
No one really tells you this. Mostly people talk about how great it is to be young and have your whole life ahead of you. And it is, most of the time. Or people talk about how entitled young people are these days and that none of us ever want to pay our dues. And some of us are, some of the time.
But the truth is, while life can get difficult at any age, a lot of the time, being young is synonymous with being lost and confused and scared. While it’s true that we have more choices than the generations before us, we are also paralysed in the face of those choices. So we figure things out slowly by a process of elimination that makes it look like our entire twenties is just one long string of mistakes after another because those who judge us cannot see that these are not the mistakes of our youth, they are the building blocks of our maturity.
Those who have never been lost should not underestimate it or dismiss it. Being lost is real. Being lost is like trying to defuse a bomb but all the wires are the same color and you have no clue which one to cut before it all blows up in your face. Being lost can masquerade as freedom while all the time scaring you to death because these years are supposed to shape your life but how can you shape your life when you can’t even decide what your next step is?
The thing is this: My friends and I? We by and large don’t know where we’re going. Sure, we make plans and get jobs and quit jobs and relocate and set up businesses but the truth is we’re fumbling in the dark, trying to find out what we want by slowly eliminating what we don’t. Being young and being lost means being pulled in a hundred different directions and trying to build your plans on sand. Need I remind you that sand is not the most reassuring of surface grounds to be standing on?
So I wish that sometimes people would have a little more compassion for the young. Yes, we are sometimes whiny. Yes, we are sometimes entitled. Yes, we have enviously smooth skin and all our teeth intact and theoretically, all the years of our lives left to live. Yes, there’s a lot to be envied of the young.
But a lot of the time, we are also scared and confused and lonely. We don’t yet have the wisdom of hindsight or the perspective of experience to give us comfort on dark nights when life decisions and deadlines sit like monsters in the shadows, overwhelming us with their threats of consequences and changes. We feel overwhelmed. We are sometimes over-dramatic. We are after all, the generation that spawned the emo movement and grew up on Death Cab and Fall Out Boy. We deal with a world that every day and increasingly, seems to have gone insane with its own speed, a world that appears to be consuming itself daily. And when all the rest of you are dead and gone, we are the ones who will inherit the consequences of your actions.
So please, a little compassion for the youth of this world who are after all, just trying to figure it all out.
The truth is, no one can tell you if a decision will turn out good or bad and maybe there isn’t even such a thing. The point has always been to make one.
So even though I can’t see the road ahead, even though I’m groping blindly about this young life of mine and even though the idea of a five year plan makes me laugh out loud incredulously because let’s face it folks, I haven’t even sorted out the next month of my life, let alone the next five years, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and make one decision after another.
Even in the dark. Even though I’m scared. Even though I can’t see what is going to happen next.
Because I believe that some day all of this will mean something.