Youth is Wasted on the Young

I found an old picture the other day while unpacking from a recent move. The picture is of me around 1992. At the ripe old age of 19, I had completed a "victory lap" in high school before I headed off to nursing school. Seeing this picture again sent me right back to 1992 for a few moments. It was during those few moments that the advice from my grandmother came floating up from the dark depths of subconsciousness back into the light of conscious thought. When I really think about it though, it seems more likely a criticism than advice. She told me that "youth is wasted on the young". Sarcasm wasn't always my strong suit.

It was very strange, those words from my grandmother seemed to come flooding into my head from somewhere else. Maybe even from beyond the grave. It gave me goose bumps. I hadn't though about that for many, many years. It was then that I really studied this "glory days" picture of my youth. Gosh, I was beautiful. I do mean that in the most humble of ways. My skin was beautiful, I was fortunate to have never suffered from acne. I never had to wear any makeup except for maybe a little lipgloss and mascara from time to time. Why would I? There were no dark circles or any puffiness under my eyes. My lips were plump and moist. There is a jaw line, no jowls and no double chin. My cheeks are riding high and seem to be where they are supposed to be. And my hair was much thicker than it is now. All these things though, I didn't see them. I couldn't see them. Not at all. I suffered from impossibly low self esteem. Those were definitely not my "glory days". I had been through a lot in my short time on earth. I knew what I wanted, I had no idea how to get there. I didn't know who I was, or who I was even supposed to be. I always just felt awkward and out of place. Maybe that is part of growing up.

At the same time I rediscovered this picture, I was reading a book called "Altlas of the Heart" by Brene Brown. If you have ever wondered about feelings this is a very good book and I highly recommend it. Anyway, the chapter I was reading that same day, really fit with how I was feeling about this picture and the whole "Youth is wasted on the young" quote from my grandmother. It was these two things that inspired me to write this blog. The chapter I was reading was exploring the feelings of "Nostalgia" and "Bittersweet". Again, I urge you to read the book, because my summary will not do these feelings one bit of justice compared to the book. "Nosalgia", seems all too familiar, and here is a bit of a spoiler alert: it is not a good feeling. While remembering good memories seems to be ok, we cannot go back there, and pining away for those times is futile. It ends up just feeling kind of sad, and those are the good memories. "Bittersweet" is a feeling of both happiness and sadness. See, I feel so happy about the path my life has led me down and how much I have grown as a person. I now have the confidence in myself that I could have only dreamed about at nineteen. Having a lot more life experience has taught me that I can get through anything life may throw at me. I have gained a lot of nursing knowledge and people respect my opinion. At the same time I feel sad about the passage of time and realize that my life is probably more than half over. I also feel sad for the young girl that I was all those years ago. "If I only knew then what I know now." Again, "Nostalgia", why do you have to be so ridiculous? How could I have possibly known? I am now 49, and that picture is 30 years old, (the picture itself is older than I was at the time it was taken). If I could, (and more Nostalgia here) I would tell that young beautiful girl to let loose and be herself and not to be afraid of what others think of her. Sing, dance, laugh, walk away, it is all ok. I do know that she is a fighter and she will find her truth and discover what a beauty she is. I am also really happy that she had a good skin care routine back then too.

In summary, I do not want to be that 19 year old anymore. I have had a great nursing career so far and have learned so much along the way. I am now able to venture out and challenge myself with a new business opportunity. I am thrilled, excited and grateful beyond measure to be able to do so. I am learning new skills and am meeting amazing people, that are showing me the path forward. I am a mother to two of the most wonderful kids and soon to be step mother to two more wonderful kids. I am about to be married, (this will be my fourth marriage btw) to the most wonderful, caring and supportive man I have ever known. (That took a few tries and he is someone I knew back in high school, sigh). I am proud of the woman I have become and proud of the 19 year old young woman who fought for me to get here. I really have no regrets. I will continue to fight for the rest of my days for that beautiful skin, though. Oh grandma, maybe "youth is wasted on the young" after all.

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