Keeping The Joy Alive

When one of my pieces was recently published, it was hit with barrage of negative comments, which is to be expected when you are even slightly personal on the Internet.

But, what shocked me was how many of these comments were about how I would change my idealistic views when I am older and how my views and ideals could be discredited because I am 20—which, by the way, who would have any idea of my age anyway?

This idea that suddenly, one day, I’m going to wake up and a switch will be flipped where I become crotchety and jaded is something that has never really made any sense to me. Why does the passage of time and the addition of experience automatically mean I’m going to become a more negative person? And why do my current experiences and views not have a place just because I can’t legally buy a drink?

I’m not saying that all of my views are correct, but I do think there is something to be said for the twenty-something perspective (which is, honestly, a big part of Literally, Darling). I know that my views will only continue to grow and change as I get older and some things I will have done in my 20s I will probably have a facepalm about, but I don’t feel I’m stupid or naïve in saying that I will never stop caring.

This feeling of wanting to better the world, to see the world, to understand the world is something that I think is to be admired in people my age, not scoffed at. Even when I’m older, I don’t want to be the type of person who is full of hatred or feels like life kicked me to the curb. And I certainly don’t want to be the type of person who is apathetic.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who would read this and still walk away with the same point of view or mockingly say they’ll love to see how I feel about this when I’m 50, but I will tell you now that I will fight with every fiber of my being against apathy and hatred. I will strive to never stop seeing the good in my life and the good in others and I will try to never discount the opinions of others because they have not lived the experiences I have.

When you discount the experiences of others, you will never truly learn. That is why I love writing so much, I see growth not only in myself, but how much I’ve changed because of others and their experiences.

Youth may be wasted on the young, but it doesn’t mean I won’t try to keep some scraps of my younger self with me.

Photo by Funkybug

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View Comments (4)
  • Hey Kristen. So I found this post by pure accident, but am so glad I did as it sums up how I feel often. Being in my late twenties, with a generally Polly-Anna esque demeanor, it is amazing how often my chirpiness is viewed as either naivety or perhaps just plain stupidity (particularly as I am a guy). The funny thing is that people who say that normally fail to recognise that the way I act is a choice. I chose not to dwell on the negative, I chose to avoid movies/books/people that kill my joy, and I work damn hard to look at the positive side of life. I do it because I would rather go through life that way. So don’t let people tell you it will fade. Experience can sometimes make you a little more cynical yes, but it is a choice to remain in that space or to strive for a joyful life. I chose the latter, and I suspect you will too!

  • Missed your previous article so I cannot comment, but I think both sides/ages err when discounting the other. Youth offers optimism, hope, and potential. I see that in my children and students. Age and experience remind us to consider cautiously how our actions and words affect others. Many of us who are past 50 have seen much illness, death, and selfishness. It gives us pause…we are not all jaded, but scarred. This year a 20-something has treated, and continues to treat, me with great callousness and indifference, but at the same time my students and children have given me joy. Love and betrayal come from all ages, but as we grow older many of us do become more aware of both the cold, hard edges of life along with appreciation for the simplest joys. Listen to the voices of experience and just allow them to give you pause, too, as you trek your way through life. Being jaded is optional, but certainly not required for the journey.

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