By Claudia Quigg
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote that “Youth is wasted on the young.” And to some extent, most of us would agree with him.
In our youth, our knees don’t creak. Our sleep is largely undisturbed. Our energy is boundless. And most importantly, a universe of possibility awaits us.
And yet, when I recently polled a group of adults with the question, “Would you return to childhood if you could?” I was met with a resounding “NO!” for a variety of reasons related to childish self-doubting, adolescent peer pressure and abuse, and the general powerlessness experienced almost universally by the young.
As adults, we fiercely embrace the hard-won perspective we’ve attained that makes it possible for us to deal with the slings and arrows of everyday life.
Adults have learned that bad times don’t last. Sunshine comes on the heels of every storm. The Psalmist wrote that weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning. Even the grumpiest economist acknowledges that a fiscal boom is likely to follow every recession.
When you’ve survived heartache a number of times, you learn to trust that life will get better, even when you don’t see how.
Young people lack this perspective and often feel swamped by the negative emotions they experience. Getting cut from the team may feel like the end of the world. Not being invited to a party may overwhelm kids with despair.
Sharing our belief that things will get better is the work of every parent. There are no shortcuts to learning these deep truths about life. But our kids can get a glimpse of perspective from parents sharing their own. When their hearts break, our sharing a similar experience from our own childhood may make them feel less alone with their pain.
Maybe some of the world’s gifts are wasted on the young. But for the most part, many of us would agree that if you can hang in there through the hard years of growing up, It Gets Better.