I’m not complaining. At the moment, despite having to care for a German Shepherd who has just been neutered, my life is relatively easy and blessed. I have a wonderful home, a way to bring in an income and a loving wife. Domesticity has never been better for this 42 year old, unusually tall and oddly shaped male. For a lazy guy- I have done well enough (by lazy I mean an absence of inner motivation to commit myself to things that earn an income). I have always preferred the world of dreams- especially in my youth.
If I could be young again (by young I mean in my twenties and early thirties) I would wear more black leather, I would dye my hair more often, I would paint my nails various colors, I would explore more, I would challenge authority more, I would commit myself more to something strange and out of the box, I would madly pursue my dreams and nightmares- I would be much less fearful than I was. Youth is not a time for missed opportunities. If one is lucky they will have middle age and their elderly years for that.
Youth is a time of potential/opportunity/rebellion and instead of diving head first into these things, I stuck my feet in. Maybe this is what happens when an aspiring artist/writer is raised in the typical middle class, suburban, nuclear family paradigm. This often makes it more challenging to go against the grain because there is so much pressure to conform. When the kid who was raised in a middle class, suburban environment does try to go against the grain and do something unusual or unconventional with their life, they are seen as a failure. A confused soul. Someone given to reckless abandon. Irresponsible. These feelings of failure and judgement from others can often turn into disempowering anger and despair. At least it did for me.
I wanted to be as outlandish and unusual as possible when I was younger. I did not want to be like “them.” I wanted to tear down the world as it was and reconstruct it in strange, less mediocre ways. I never quite found the drive and courage to go all the way. Somehow my parents opinion slowed me down. I did not have their support to pursue my desire to be an artist and writer and somehow I allowed this lack of support to cause me to doubt my own capabilities and talents. Instead of spending my days trying to turn my youth filled dreams into a tangible reality, I kept them in the back of my mind as I spent all my time buried in novels, dead end jobs and sitting on street corners smoking cigarets and watching the world go by.
Now that I am older it is more difficult to pursue certain ambitions that really do require complete immersion and dedication. One thing that I did not factor into the getting older equation was a dwindling of energy. In youth energy is as electric as lightning. It is an energy that has the quality of an obsession. It can cut glass. It is pure and positively charged and it is this energy that has the potential to break the individual out of the societal box that our entire global culture is designed to keep people in.
In many ways my youth was a missed opportunity. My depression, self doubt, fear and rage kept me from fulfilling my potential. I had great times and have wonderful debauched and poetic memories- but I also have regrets. Youth is a time to not be tethered by other peoples expectations. It is a time of freedom, a place of potential where a person does not have to explain themselves to anyone. It is a time to break glass and not worry about cleaning it up. The difference between those who accomplish their youth-filled dreams and those who do not is simply a matter of confidence, dedication and courage. I myself never did wear all that black leather, I never did paint my nails various colors, I never did dye my hair, I never did madly pursue my dreams. I did not understand what I get now- the entire point of youth is to inhabit and pursue the world of dreams.
2 thoughts on “Youth and Missed Opportunities”
Wow, awesome post, I really enjoyed it. I’m currently in the midst of a quarter life crisis, I’m only 23 but already I feeling I have missed opportunities and failed dreams. I was search google with those key words, being neurotic and stumbled across this. Your personal thoughts have provided me with some inspiration to try and find more inner confidence and pursue my dreams with reckless abandon. Maybe I’ll get there one day. But right now I am more often than not tethered to the expectations of others, especially my parents. Thanks for the inspiration anyhow.
Thank you for your comments Hamish. I am glad that what I wrote found you. Go easy on yourself and try not to be infected with your parents and others anxiety about what you are going to do with your life. Enjoy your youth. Every moment. Read, explore, contemplate, do nothing, hang out, breathe and just have fun. You have plenty of time/life to be worried and stressed out. Now is not the time. Good luck to you sir.