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Youth is wasted on the Young Debate

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Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art. ‘ (Stanislaw Lec) Is youth really wasted on the young – or is this proverb inspired by a desperation to be young again? Heard from all around the world, this short, blunt statement is aimed not just to criticize but also to express regret, sorrow and disappointment. It is muttered from the street corners as one more youth is seen with that distant look in their eyes, head bent, playing on the latest gadget. They walk mindlessly to a destination not known to them. Their concentration is unwavering, their eyes rarely blinking. If only they were like this in school!

Another person walks past and, seeing the youth, utters the line heard so often now, ‘Youth is wasted on the young. ‘ Those critics forget the learning, the experiences and the opportunities they neglected or misused in their youth so that they are living the life they do now. Perhaps the older members look at the life and energy possessed by the youths and enviously wish for even the smallest fraction of that energy? They grow irritated at their physical limitations for inside their slowly decaying bodies lie sharp minds, eager once more for the excitement of youth and the freedom the young have.

They want to experience the wonder and constant surprises. They want to experience the learning and opportunity. They want to experience youth again but not as a youth but with the years of experience youth has built for them. Good afternoon Ms. O’Sullivan and 9. 7 English. I have no doubt that many, if not all, of you have heard the line, ‘Youth is wasted on the young. ‘ It is spoken so often that it has become a proverb. It is spoken now with little meaning, only the wistful longing of men and women wishing, hoping to taste the freedom of youth again. Youth is a time of learning and experience.

Youth is a time of innocence and naivety. It is natural that as one gains more knowledge and wisdom, the youth fades away and one loses their innocence. Youth is a time given to be enjoyed and, as the youth grows older, cherished as memories. Is it just coincidence that youth is given to the young? Is it just coincidence that the word ‘young’ is derived from the word ‘youth’? No, youth is a chance, an opportunity, to live and learn, to love and hate and to experience wonders. Youth was given to the young so that they might benefit. Without it, childhood would be no more.

The young require youth to learn the vital basics needed to sustain a proper adult life. It gives the young resilience so that they may withstand the harsher lessons of life and love. It gives them the chance to take action and grasp opportunities. The older members of society can now recognize the need for youth. They can recognize that youth lets us learn the essentials of life and allow us to apply the knowledge we learn in our youth to live our life. They can understand that youth is merely a way for us to learn the information we need so that we-they-may enjoy the era after youth, the age of wisdom.

They can see the freedom and innocence youth brings. They can see that today’s youth do not always understand and appreciate it just as, when they were young, they also wasted opportunities. The greatest irony is that when we are young, we cannot wait to grow older but when we are old, we want to be young again. When a person releases his/her last tenuous grip on childhood, dropping the final reins of youth and letting go of the last moments of the only youth he/she will ever receive, the person is taking the last steps as a youth and the first steps as a mature adult.

They are leaving behind the experiences and they are preparing to learn by reflecting, a skill rarely fully developed. They are entering the realm which youth has prepared them for and which youth has no place in. Youth is like a flower. It blooms young, flourishes and then changes, depending on how we’ve learnt from our mistakes, into a mature adult. Youth is given to the young for many reasons. They live, love, learn and laugh. Youth is given to the young so that when they grow old they may cherish the experiences and appreciate youth.

You can never really appreciate something until you’ve lost it and once you’ve lost youth, you can never regain it. Youth is a time appreciated both as an experience and as a memory. Sometimes, it is more powerful as a memory as then one has time to look over one’s mistakes, reflect and learn. Learning does not stop at youth. Youth stays with you forever, in the form of memories, usually good memories. In a survey of twenty five adults that I interviewed, fifteen thought they wasted their youth but were now learning from experiences they had encountered.

A further ten said that they learned more from later experiences than they ever did in youth. And the majority of the twenty five thought that youth was best spent as a child. Given these statistics, do you think youth is wasted on the young? If eternal youth were given to the older members of society, they would have had a lifetime to ensure they spend it ‘correctly’. When given to children, however, it is spent carelessly and through that, we are given the experiences we are to learn from in later years.

Youth may seem to be wasted on children and young people, but it gives time to reflect. Youth may seem to be spent badly but that is how it is designed to be spent. Adulthood relies on this. It relies on the knowledge, the understanding gained from youth and its mistakes. Is youth wasted on the young? The answer is – no. Youth is but a way to prepare for one’s journey into the era after youth, the age of wisdom. ‘Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art. ‘ (Stanislaw Lec) Is youth really wasted on the young – or is this proverb inspired by a desperation to be young again?

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