Youth is wasted on the young

youth is wasted on the young - art therapy with kimberly | kimberly hetherington

“Getting old is terrible,” my mother in law grumbles.

We’re sitting in the kitchen of their home on the beautiful countryside of France. She’s not that old yet, only in her early 60’s, but she is telling me about all the joys of menopause. It’s occurs to me that menopause is a part of every woman’s life, yet is never really discussed. It’s as if the very natural act of ageing for a woman is repulsive, taboo even. It irritates me that women who are no longer in child bearing age seem to disappear, as if they are no longer valuable in society. Life is an accumulation of experiences, it’s odd that our society worships the young when they offer no real insight about the facts of life.

“You know, when I was young my mind was always struggling with insecurities about my body,” she tells me. “As I get older, my body is failing and my mind no longer cares about those same insecurities.” This is the something I’ve heard my mum say too. Actually, almost all older women I know say similar sentiments. I’m sure there are men who experience the same thing, but it seems more heightened for women. Often we are insecure about our bodies and then when we look back at old pictures of ourselves we think ‘why? I looked so good!’ I’m almost in my mid thirties now and when I look back on photos of me in my early twenties I can remember the ridiculous insecurities I had. It was such a waste of time to waste on being insecure when in actuality I looked great.

It immediately reminded me of the quote, ‘the youth is wasted on the young.’ Often young people are riddled with anxieties and insecurities and it’s only in our old age that we break away from them and embrace life. By that point it’s too late, we can’t physically move the way we used to and time is, in essence, running out. Wouldn’t it be great if every insecure young person could be put into a machine where they were transported into a version of themselves as an old person for one entire week? During this week they would experience what it’s like to be old. They would walk with a cane, feeling the pain in their joints and soreness in their back. They would look in the mirror at their worn and weathered skin. They would be confronted with a range of aches and pains in places they never felt before. I’m certain that when the week was up they would be overjoyed to have their young body back. Who cares if there is acne? Who cares about the cellulite? I just want to be able to walk without pain!

I don’t want my remaining youth to be wasted on me. I don’t want to look back on this time of my life now and regret taking it for granted. I don’t want to be held back my insecurities. I don’t want to take it all so seriously and worry about every single thing. I want to be the type of person who thoroughly enjoys life. The kind of person who is fun to be around, quick to laugh. I don’t want to look back on the photos I have of myself now and feel regretful I didn’t have fun and enjoy myself without being weighed down by silly insecurities. It’s boring. No one cares, everyone is in their own world, doing their own thing. Judgement will always be there no matter what.

So this is a reminder to me, and maybe to you too, don’t let your youth pass by. Even if you aren’t that young, don’t let this time, in this body that you have found yourself in, to age without having fun in it first.

[Photo by unknown – please feel free to comment if you know who took it!]

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