These are not my words. They were written by Hugh McLeod (one of my internet superheroes) and, as it shows, he is certainly much older than I am. The reason I am sharing this with you is because those words made me feel better and they might make you feel better.
His work has this remarkable tendency to either kick you in the butt and get you to do the work or make you realise that being kicked in the butt is not such a bad thing and thus, help you appreciate the work you do. The above certainly has the latter effect.
Once our youth is gone forever, and it always goes eventually, despite our best efforts to hang onto it, it’s tempting to idolize it, to look at it something far more glorious and emotionally satisfying than it actually was at the time.
And although, I am still in the thick of my youth, I can relate to this feeling of my past being ‘something far more glorious and emotionally satisfying than it actually was at the time’. When I write about my days in high school, I only write about the happy memories. And it is not because I want to write about happy memories, it is because those are the only memories that I have remaining of those days. My brain’s done the dirty work of removing the bad bits out. I suspect that this is the same thing that must happen to those much older than me. Making them see a rosier picture of their young selves.
This happiness filtering that our brain does might be a good thing. It might have some really good evolutionary reasons. But even if it does, it is not something that makes me proud. I have a bad feeling that not just do we lose the bad memories but we also lose the lessons (not all but many) that we learnt from experiencing those ‘bad’ things.
Ok, I don’t have any data to back me up and these conclusion are based on plain observations. I hope some of you are able to relate to it though. I draw such a harsh conclusion on the basis of having met and known people who are much older than me and having interacted with them at all levels for quite some time. People seem to struggle with the same things in life over and over again. A 20-something may be in the exact same situation (barring a few things) as a 50-something about an important life decision.
Enough of the cynicism though. Hugh’s poster made me feel better as I said before. I was happy about the fact that these turbulent years of my youth are actually quite hard and it is not all in my mind that I perceive them to be hard.
It is hard to appreciate the difficulties of being a young one because all around you people keep saying, ‘But you are young, you have so much energy to do all those things’. It makes you feel as if you aren’t making effective use of the fountain of infinite energy that comes with being young. It is as if having so much ‘energy’ is enough to manufacture the required amount of motivation to do things.
And then of course there is the comment on how many opportunities lie ahead of the youth. ‘Oh you are still quite young and you have so many years to try new things and achieve greatness’. That might be but we are also only just entering the professional world and will need some time to learn the art of doing things. We are also utterly confused and some times clueless about many things. And throwing around the word opportunities isn’t enough to actually turn them into real dividends.
Hugh is damn right, ‘Being young is difficult. Insanely so.’