Thursday, May 19, 2011

Youth vs. Adulthood: Which One Wins?

There's that famous saying that goes: "Youth is wasted on the young." Generally, this is said by a crotchety old man as he observes care-free young people who are probably speeding past him on the road or running amok in the aisles of department stores.

To me, this saying gets me thinking about happiness - are young people happier than adults and just don't realize it? Is that whole "ignorance is bliss" saying true?

I was pondering this today while in the bathroom (yes, I philosophize while on the john). It got me thinking about my childhood and happiness (two of the topics that frequently cross my mind). Was I happier as a child than I am now?

My guess is that it all depends on what "happiness" means. Happiness could be making a living. That would mean my adult life is happier. Happiness could also mean having little responsibility. That would mean childhood wins.

In true, Type-A personality fashion, I'll just make a couple lists.

Childhood Happiness
  • I could read two books at a time and finish within a few days. Now, I get automated phone calls telling me my library books are overdue, and I've barely gotten through the first half of a great novel.
  • My key responsibilities included 6 hours of school and maybe an hour of homework on average, depending on what grade I was in. Without having to cook, clean or tend to my iPhone, I could spend hours doing whatever I wanted - playing in my playhouse my dad built, riding bikes, watching copious amounts of "Full House." Come 3 p.m., the world was my oyster.
  • Meeting new people didn't require me to put on my game face and act interested in conversation. As a kid, you're generally ignored by adults, so you can go on with your own business and the things that matter to you. You're allowed to be quiet and self-absorbed. As an adult, this makes you an asshole.
  • The whole world was ahead of me. I could make outlandish statements about how I was going to be an actress on "Dawson's Creek" and write for Rolling Stone. Nowadays, your goals have to be concrete. Attainable. Realistic. Otherwise, you just make Charlie Sheen sound normal.
  • I could eat the hell out of a Happy Meal and later run around our backyard in my two-piece swimsuit, feeling nothing but glee. I had yet to be introduced to bad food reactions requiring Pepto Bismal, acid reflux, the slowing of my metabolism and negative body issues.
Adult Happiness
  • One of my main concerns as a kid was having a boyfriend. That was all I thought about, day and night. I would kiss my Cabbage Patch doll (it was a boy doll, Dad. No worries) and pretend it was my future husband. Thank God I can now focus my attention on other things. And thank God I can actually kiss real boys now.
  • Sure I almost hyperventilate when my rent is due because I'm so sad to see such a huge chunk of my hard-earned money going away at the click of a button - but at the same time, I always feel some amount of pride when I successfully pay a bill. I'm doing it - living life on my own in my own apartment, just as I told my dad I would at 8 years old.
  • I begged my mom incessantly to buy me a life-sized version of the dress my American Girls doll wore (it was a floral, 1770s gown with petticoats - the ultimate attire for a 5th grader). I remember telling her, "It's only $80, and you make so much money, Mommy!" My mom calmly explained to me that just because she makes money, doesn't mean she doesn't have other things to pay for that are more important than a dress - electricity bills, a mortgage, Dad's Dreyer's ice cream habit. Nowadays, I can buy myself any colonial garb I please! It's my money, and I'm lucky that I'm able to buy fun things for myself every once in awhile.
  • Not that I'm a wild woman, but I do feel a sort of satisfaction when I stay out on a Friday night until 2 a.m. and come home guilt-free. It's not so much that I love to party - more that I'm so incredibly lucky to be independent.
So, when it comes to it, I'd say it's a draw. I was happy as a kid, and I'm happy now as an adult. Sure, life gets tougher as you get older, but I'm excited for all of life's stages. I sure don't ever want any youth to be wasted on this youngin.

1 comment:

  1. Tracy- I love you blog! Haha! I'm glad you can kiss real boys too. :)