Wednesday, January 7, 2015

3 Dangers in Over-Glorifying Youth

“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling twenty-twoo-ooo!”

Actually....I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to feel as a 22-year-old. Seriously, am I an adult or what?

Western society’s increasing phase of adolescence coupled with its constant glorification of youth can make for an interesting and confusing experience for the modern twenty-something. To be honest, sometimes I just want to get on with my life and be respected as an adult. To be equally honest, sometimes I just want to keep getting away with everything that young people can get away with. Isn’t there a happy medium?

I mean I’m certainly thankful that my society is no longer one that would expect me to be married and bearing children by now. However, we may have gone a little too far in the opposite direction. Here are three dangers I see in over-glorifying the frivolities of youth.

1) It can make it harder to enjoy youth.
Ironically, too much pressure to have fun while you’re young can kinda take the fun out of being young. It’s like there’s this quota that we’re supposed to fill before graduating college, starting a family or career, or otherwise joining the “adult world.” I mean, my youth hasn’t been particularly mainstream since I was homeschooled and went to a university with a relatively high percentage of non-traditional students. But still, I highly doubt I’m the only young person who has ever looked around and thought, “ I having enough fun yet?”

And sadly, the types of fun that are commonly depicted in the music and movies that influence our conception of youth are not the healthiest. Which leads me to my second point.

2) It can make youth more dangerous.
This is very culturally specific, I suppose, as it’s closely related to the way in which we glorify youth. Think of a few songs or movies about teens and/or twenty-somethings “living it up.” What are the common themes? How about taking advantage of one’s independence from career and family obligations to invest time and effort into a cause they care about? Nope. What about using youthful health to get outside and swim and climb and explore and just DO AWESOME STUFF??? Despite the amount of North Face you’ll see on a college campus or the number of Tinder profiles featuring the word “outdoorsy,” this doesn’t seem to come out on top, either.

Rather, it seems that most songs and movies about youth regularly hit on two themes: sex and alcohol.

Now don’t take me for more of a saint than I am. I’m not against either of these things when enjoyed in moderation. But when partying becomes the focal point of being young, young people miss out on SO much. The quality of one’s youth shouldn’t be measured according to how many times they woke up and didn’t know where they were or how attractive their hottest hook-up was. Emphasis on these things fosters a youth culture tainted with alcohol poisoning, drug overdose, sexual harassment, and a lot of self-image issues.

3) It can take away from the rest of the human experience!
I don’t really like it when people talk about high school or college or their teens or their twenties or whatever as the best time in their life. Again...I’m supposed to be having all the fun now? TOO. MUCH. PRESSURE.

But also, there are multiple things to enjoy about every phase of life. I understand that there are hard times and goods times, ups and downs...but overall, I want to live so fully in every phase of life that when I’m on my deathbed looking back over the years, I can’t even decide which part was the best.

Furthermore, I think the pressure to “live it up” and be irresponsible while you can get away with it really hinders people from contributing toward their long term goals. 

I was thinking about mine earlier today...become an archaeologist, work as a professor, contribute to education reform and found at least one university in a developing country...and it occurred to me that 22-year-old me is not the main character of my life story. We’re still in the first half hour of the movie, glancing through at the young adulthood that makes me who I need to be for the climax of the story. Of course you can always be making some kind of difference in the world around you. But for many of us, the significance of our lives will not be realized in full until our middle or later adulthood. And that means that right now, we have all this time and energy that we could either waste or use to prepare ourselves. It’s up to each of us to become the person that we want to be. It’s important to balance that fact with enjoying and appreciating the time we have while not tied down to a lot of serious commitments. Experiencing the now should not come at the cost of experiencing the later...or vice versa, mind you.

I guess the main point here is that three quarters of the “living” you do should not be done in the first quarter of your life.

Yeah, we should enjoy the good things about youth while we have them. But not just the ones that are glorified by our media, and not with a blind eye to everything else that life can be.

No comments:

Post a Comment