Youth is Wasted on the Young

Photo by kat wilcox on

Like most young people I never thought I would ever utter such sacrilegious words. Now I’m finally young I understand how true they are.

I’m 65 years young, and next month I become a state pensioner, don’t ask me how that happened. It follows a prediction of my mother’s: one moment you’ll be 21 and the next you’ll be wondering what happened! WTF comes to mind!

My lost youth

Unfortunately my youth wasn’t lost having too much fun, far from it. Instead it was lost in sober living, not just alcohol free, but living free. Existence is not too strong a word.

I met the right kind of man, knew it was going to be a disaster, but a good girl wouldn’t rip two families apart by not marrying the perfect man with his own house and an expensive car would she?

In fairness my dad gave me a way out, and I will always be grateful for that, but someone else was more in love with my ex than I was, my mother. Like most mother’s she was also looking forward to the white wedding, which followed the Friends line nicely “You get the wedding of your dreams when your daughter gets married”. My mother was determined that I was getting married and told dad it was just pre-wedding nerves, I thought she was probably right. Stupid, stupid, stupid, because both she and I knew that wasn’t true.

At the age of 21 I was living a middle aged life, wearing middle aged clothes, doing a job I never wanted, living in a museum filled with ex’s grandparents 1930’s furniture, with original wallpaper and 4″ moth holes in the curtains. Everyone kept telling me how fortunate I was. Dear God!

I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, my anxiety was out of control, I was completely miserable, yet I was still getting up every morning, going to work, smiling, running an amateur dramatic group, and generally playing the role to perfection. Why I don’t have an Oscar inscribed with idiot I don’t know. But I do have a lot of empathy for people who are stuck in the wrong life wondering how the heck they got there, it’s only too easy, sadly.

Getting Younger

I finally plucked up the courage to leave him, lost my family and all but two friends, and was nearly homeless. Fortunately I met Tony and he took me and the cats in, thank God for real! I was so looked after.

I was excited! I’d met a rebel who’d moved 13,000 miles because he knew he was living the wrong life. He wore jeans and t-shirts (so youthful), drove a battered old car, and had brought a rather down-at-heel flat in South Norwood, South London, which I loved. Surprisingly the two cats that had never been without a garden settled like a dream and never once tried to get out. We were on a very fast main road.

Now I could start to live, I went to restaurants I’d never tried, nightclubs, had spontaneous holidays, and started my new wardrobe with my first pair of jeans and trainers. So cool. Except that Tony was a workaholic often doing 12 hour days, so when he got the job he wanted I landed up mainly living alone. It’s okay, we get each other, we’re still together, he had his issues and I had mine. But the fun mainly stopped.

Concerns of youth

I discovered that they don’t go until you’re not young. I never had confidence in my face, figure, hair, or personality. I always thought I was fat, until I put a collage of Tony and I together for our 25th wedding anniversary and realised I’d never been fat. I only thought so because my mum told me that all the women in our family were fat and I would have to watch every mouthful I ate for the rest of my life! That was the thinking in those days.

However, to be fair to a mother who did care greatly, thanks to her I’m in better shape at 65 than many people, and I know that controlling my weight certainly helped.

The other concern of youth which is no longer the province of women in this day and age, is not being good enough, not doing well enough, not achieving your dreams, being clever, being talented. You can quantify this list and more as ‘all the things you think you’re not with no basis in fact’.

As those of us who have been there know, the more time you waste thinking about what you’re not the more time you’re not thinking about who and what you want.

Post menopause!

I looked forward to mine, which helped enormously, but even so there were a few moments where my hormones got a lecture about the treatment I expected, and one summer’s day where Tony had to take me out on a drive in an air conditioned car because 89 degrees doesn’t need a hot flush! We drove for hours!

SUPER IMPORTANT TIP: Post 45, air conditioning is a vital component of any car that’s going to have a woman in it!

For those who dread ageing

This was when I finally became young.

Once you’re older than a certain age the concerns of youth literally have no place. No point worrying about your figure, you’ve figured out it’s going to do its own thing. No point worrying about wrinkles, they will appear, there is help nowadays, but avoidance is futile. No point worrying about grey hair, there is hair dye!

More importantly, if you’ve been wise and worked on yourself until you’re happy with the person you are, learned your life lessons and put them into action, you will stop caring what other people think of you.

Your career will be rocketing behind you, and as you can’t travel back in time it’s pretty much a done deal. Your children will be making their own life and you will be as helpless as you were the day they were born and you were just praying that you could keep them alive.

After decades of hearing the same criticisms it becomes water off a duck’s back. You also become more aware of yourself as an equal human amongst over 7 billion other equal humans, and wonder (sometimes out loud) why any fallible human has the nerve to criticise anyone else. My faults may not be your faults but they are all faults.

Youth is not wasted on the old

Another hopeful moment. You can dwell on ageing or ignore it. I suggest you ignore it.

There’s a lot of bad press around ageing, a lot of threats from the medical profession, the media who tries to help the young cancel us, the youth who think we’ve screwed up and they’re going to do a much better job (yeah right, we all thought that), that we’re too expensive and rather out-of-line for expecting a pension from the money we have paid, and blame us for a history that was history way before we were born.

Ignore the bad press, ignore the threats, take care of yourself, have fun, lots of fun. You have the time for the holidays now. Get out there and enjoy all the things you’ve never been able to do. Live, laugh, and be happy.

Most people will tell you they never feel older than 30 inside, and it’s true, although I prefer 40, I loved being 40! Given a bit of luck and a following wind, you can have a fantastic golden age enjoying all the worries you don’t have. All the things you feared about getting old have happened and you’re still here! Most importantly, for the vast majority of us, all the youthful fears we had came to nothing, they were just the echo of life pressures and as concrete as a puff of dust.

Moral of the story

If you’re young and really worried that your youth is being wasted, stop worrying. You need to wait another 30 years before you even reach youth, and you will have loads of time to enjoy it, providing you don’t have to work until you’re 90.

And another thing: You’ll finally understand us and send the apologies back into the past, that I’ve sent to my parents, they sent to theirs, and so on. Perhaps the younger generation could finally put a stop to ageism? You’ll certainly benefit!

To your happiness and youthfulness
(may your genes be ever in your favour)

Deb xx


Published by debdancingstarhawken7

I'm a writer, public speaker, medium, and spiritual thinker. I suffered from acute anxiety from the age of 16 until I was well into my 50s, after fearlessly exploring many ideas, philosophies, and tools, I finally found methods that helped me return my mind to a better normal. One of the things I hated about anxiety was the way people treated me like a fool or a problem, I have two degrees and I'm a (much) retired black belt, my IQ is decent, but I constantly felt like a complete idiot, something that was exacerbated by never feeling like the real me. The girl who could laugh endlessly about the smallest things, and had a real excitement about what life had to offer her. I didn't need anyone else to tell me I wasn't 'right', I knew that better than anyone. My mission now is to support people suffering as I did with a message of support with what they're going through, tools and ideas that might help, and a strong message of hope for the future. At 63, which I am at the time of writing, many people I know are in a rut, yet having beaten anxiety I'm now doing more with my life than I ever did when I was struggling just to get up in the morning, let alone face the day. It's a wonderful feeling - so the main message is that it doesn't matter how long you've been struggling or what age you are, when you beat anxiety you will get an entirely new lease of life - and that's fantastic at any age. On a personal note I'm married to my soul mate, we have 5 cats, and I live in the middle of the UK. I follow a number of fantastic thinkers, as it's important to immerse yourself in healthy thinking as often as you can, I'm a Toastmaster and professional public speaker, and I keep life simple and encourage my clients to do the same, and my friends.

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