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Is youth wasted on the young?

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Is youth wasted on the young

By Confidence Seleme

It was George Bernard Shaw, the esteemed author, who made the statement “Youth is wasted on the young”. It’s a significant statement that I believe should be viewed as a challenge to us young people. By ‘young people’, I mean anyone who doesn’t regard themselves as being old. There are people who are thirty-five and are old. And there are people who are sixty-five and still young. To stay young throughout your life, you must remain a dreamer. Dreamers have a youthful demeanour about them that keeps them fresh and doesn’t allow them to get old and stale. Yes, their bodies may get old but their spirits remain young and optimistic. Dreamers always have something to look forward to. As soon as they reach one milestone, they set their eyes on the next one. This is the attitude they have and it serves them well.

The tragedy is that many people spend their younger years, when they have all the energy in the world, on unproductive and sometimes destructive activities. Instead of pursuing an entrepreneurial vision, they pursue multiple sleeping partners and a promiscuous life. Instead of studying to improve their lives and mental well-being, they pursue drugs and abuse themselves with deadly habits. This is energy wasted. This is youth wasted.

Each of us has talent. Some are talented athletes, some are talented in academia and others are natural leaders imbued with the gift of leadership. But in life, talent isn’t enough to carry you through to long-term success. Talent is merely a seed. It is merely your ticket onto the field. It has to be cultivated. It has to be worked on and improved upon so that it produces fruit. It is a pitiful thing to see a seed lying on some pavement somewhere instead of being planted in fertile ground where it can grow into a greater expression of itself. What are you doing with your talent?

I believe we live in the most privileged era humanity has ever seen. We have more access to knowledge and information than ever before. We have more resources to produce than ever before. We have readily available libraries where one can receive free education. We have elders and mentors who are able and willing to share their hard-earned wisdom with us. We have media outlets, recording studios, multidimensional devices and cell-phones and other resources that can enable us to achieve whatever dream we have.

We need to change how we see the world around us. We can begin by changing how we view opposition. Opposition, for example, can come in the form of the educational challenges that our country faces. I was listening to the radio the other day and the presenter was interviewing a group of entrepreneurs all under the age of twenty-five who had developed tablets that were designed specifically to cater for the educational needs of children in underprivileged communities. They changed the way they viewed opposition and they chose rather to see it as an opportunity. What challenges or opposition do you see in your community or surroundings that can become an opportunity? Which of your talents can you use to best serve and be the answer to society’s needs?

All of us dreamers…all of us young people, we must prove Mr. Shaw’s statement wrong. We must not waste our youth. We must capitalise on the time we have, the energy we have, the vigour and talent we have and we must make a difference. Today, there are more billionaires under the age of thirty than there ever has been. Young people all over the world are realising that in today’s economy of social media and internetpreneurs, their youth is actually an advantage. Is youth wasted on the young? Truth is, you have to examine your life and answer that question for yourself.

Confidence Seleme is an author, speaker, radio personality and entrepreneur.

Email him at confidence@irismedia.co.za, follow him @Confidence_Word on twitter.

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