When you were young, did you realize you were young?
When I was young, I didn’t know I was young.
I sometimes knew I was the youngest person in the room. This happened often as I was growing up because I skipped Kindergarten and one grade in elementary school, so I was usually hanging with older kids.(In retrospect, skipping those grades wasn’t the best thing for my development.)
Being the youngest didn’t make me feel young. Being young to me meant being unknowing and I always knew something, more than adults suspected, more, oftentimes, than I should.
While serving as a judge for Poetry Out Loud (A National Recitation Competition)* a few weeks ago, I looked at the 24 young people who were competing and I thought – they look so young.
- Was I ever so young?
- Do they know they are young?
- Do they feel young?
Can you only know what young feels like once you no longer have that feeling of, well, absolute ability and agility. You are able to do what you want with your body and mind with no cricks or cracks or cautions or stumbles or bumbles.
I look at these young people and I think, are they comfortable where they are in life or impatient for what comes next and all the rest?
Slow down younguns I long to advise them. Embrace your freshness. Hold on for dear life. It ceases before you’re ready for it to in a flash of years.
*Courtney Stewart of Springfield Central High School was the 2014 Poetry Out Loud Champion of Massachusetts. He went on to compete in the National Competition in Washington, D.C. 1
1st Runner-Up: Stephanie Igharosa, Randolph High School
2nd Runner-Up: Darlande Joseney, Avon Middle High School
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This is such an insightful piece and I so agree. Slow down young’uns! I just realized that no, young people don’t know they are young and fresh, they are simply being. And the things that cause the mature crowd to know that youth is fleeting are the announcements made by their bodies; the mind is forever young until it starts to receive those messages and begins to reply with cautions and the commands to make the sounds to accompany the body’s movements. So the corrective course for the mature crowd is to apply the wisdom of regular exercise in order to recapture and retain at least one simple attribute of youth, mobility–oh how precious it is. As youth fades it’s important to “keep it moving.” And the wisdom of the mature know that the youth won’t take the time to cherish their youth because it lasts forever…doesn’t it? (Sigh)
Congratulations to Courtney Stewart, Stephanie Igharosa and Darlande Joseney,