Here’s Why Being Young Is Never A Benefit
Like cheese, wine, and just about every other good thing, life gets better with age.
My reading teacher in 8th grade showed me a famous quote by Willa Cather:
“Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.”
I think about that quote a lot. I don’t think it’s true.
My whole life, I’ve thought of youth as a benefit. “Objectively more attractive,” society told me, “with more energy and vigor to boot.” I believed it.
“Old people have no sex lives,” magazines whispered, “while young people want and are wanted.” I believed it.
“Enjoy your youth while it lasts,” movies said to me, “because when you’re old you’ll regret not having lived.” I believed it.
Even as young as fifteen, I worried about the fact that I would one day be old. Like, old-old. Older than thirty.
Can you imagine.
I’ve been writing on Medium for around four months, and in those four months the one thing I’ve learned is that it pays (literally) to have a voice.
Stories which are written from the heart, from years and decades of lived experience, are those which resonate with people. People who are young haven’t settled into their voices yet. We care too much about what other people think, and we think too little about what others feel.
We lean towards the popular crowd because we want to be liked, and we accept common beliefs because we don’t know any better to question them.
Being young is not always good.
Writing on Medium makes me love writing. But even more than that, it makes me love reading. I read voraciously. I absorb culture, I inhale knowledge, I eat stories and anecdotes and tales. And for the first time since I can remember, I have a desire to be older.
I want to have lived these stories. I want to have gathered that experience. I want to be as thoughtful as the people who have lived these lives, filled with good, bad, terrible and beautiful things.
People who have lived difficult, challenging lives create the most wonderful stories. Even though I often can’t relate, I can always imagine, putting myself in their shoes through their stories.
I read about how old people still love sex and I am shocked. I read about giving up a life in Canada to feed people who are hungry and I am amazed. I read about a mother’s love for her drug-addicted daughter and I am astounded.
These are things I’ve never been able to think about before because I’ve only been on this planet a handful of decades.
I’ve always thought that wrinkles were a flaw, that scars and stretch marks and spots and all the other unsightly things that come with age, were universally unwanted.
But I realize that isn’t the case. Wisdom and experience and stories all come with age, and the accompanying signs shouldn’t be hidden or hated. I can’t wait to get older and tell my story.