Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Essence of Youth, and How To Regain It if you have Lost It

Many people around the world have tried to capture the essence of being young, and in the case of those who believe they are growing old before their time, to regain the essence of being young. People have done all sort of paradoxical things, like trying to catch up with the current fashions even if they don't like it, whilst indulging in the music from decades ago, just to regain that spirit of being young. Some have even opted to have lots of plastic surgery - but that just made them look very plastic.

Make no mistake: the essence of youth is not in any fashion, music or the way you look physically. An old fashioned and unattractive young person is not less young because of the way they are, after all. The essence of youth is in the way one views the world, their own life, their place in the world, and their own future in it. The essence of youth is seeing and believing in a vista where there is a lot of time and space to dream in front of you. The essence of youth is being unafraid to dream, being unafraid of failure and instability. The essence of youth is, above all, having the freedom, the confidence and the energy to dream big.

The key to regaining the essence of youth is to regain the capacity to dream big. This capacity may have been eroded by encountering and realising the difficult aspects of life, and the many injustices and limitations this world has. We need to regain this capacity if we are to enjoy the spirit of being young again.

Some people believe that if you have lost the essence of youth, it is difficult, if not impossible, to regain it. They generally come from the point of view that once you have lost your innocence about this world, it becomes very difficult to regain the hope and optimism associated with youth. They generally come from the point of view that young people only have that great capacity to dream because they have an overly rosy view of the world, that innocence is bliss.

I cannot disagree more here.

Whilst I do agree that innocence is lost it cannot be regained, the same cannot be said about one's capacity to dream, and to turn these dreams into reality. Whilst by their mid-20s most people would already know that the world is quite imperfect, and the playing field is far from level in many areas, it doesn't mean one cannot still dream big. After all, things like gender equality were largely dreamt up and then put into practice by people who were mature and realistic in their thinking.

Knowing the difficult aspects of reality should not stop you from dreaming big, it should just mean that the contents of your dreams and the plan you follow to turn them into reality needs to take into account these aspects of life. For example, one difficult reality we have to live with in this era is that dreams tend to take longer than before to be achieved in one's life. Another is that multi billion dollar industries run almost every part of this world, and the preferences, culture and actions of many people are under the control of economic interests. They are not easy things to accept, but we just have accept these facts. What we can do is to 'train' our minds to be able to dream big even as we are very aware of the limitations of this world.
For example, knowing that dreams take long to achieve in the present era means that you have to adjust your timeframe in your game plan accordingly. However it doesn't take away from the fact that you can still have similar dreams compared with if you didn't know this fact.

In fact, only those who can dream big whilst being aware of the pitfalls of reality can turn their dreams into reality. Being aware of the difficulties and limitations you will encounter means that you have a much more solid game plan in life. Isn't that a good thing?

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Dreams are Essential for Youth Culture

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