Youth is wasted on the young.
Do you remember how annoying that saying was?
It was a hot minute ago when I was young and stupid and didn’t have the patience to take in that wisdom.
Now, here I am nodding my head in total agreement.
I think of the things I took for granted and I wonder if my younger self would read this post and just shrug it off as another middle aged person whining about being middle aged.
Here are a few of those things and my completely unsolicited advice to our youth.
Digestion was easy
I prided myself on having a lead stomach. I was the girl who could inhale the hottest of the hot buffalo wings out there. In fact, we used to make a game of it to see who could out-eat them with me. I won every time. It wasn’t even a challenge.
Today? No more hottest of the hot. Now I have the distinct pleasure of ordering everything mild. No more hotter than hot Kung Pao Chicken or crazy spicy tacos. While the flavors still make me swoon, the stomach doesn’t quite take it so well.
ADVICE: Eat the spiciest things you can muster. One day you won’t be able to muster.
Exercise and Stay Active
When I was in my twenties I was very active. I was always skating, swimming, skiing, dancing, and constantly in movement. Then I got married, became a mom and barely moved if it wasn’t about my family or work. I gained a ton of weight and felt physically miserable.
I started running in my late thirties and it was the best thing I could do for my body and my health. I have to work really hard to stay fit because I neglected my fitness for many years.
One thing that has really impacted the way I look at fitness is traveling. I have met many retirees while traveling cross country in my RV and have had countless conversations with them. The people who are thriving and enjoying their retirements with a high quality of life are usually the ones who were active when younger and stay very active in their golden years.
Folks who struggle with their health in their 50s, 60s and onward are the ones who abused smoking, alcohol and food for many years. They also tend to be the ones who weren’t and aren’t active.
It’s been an eye opener for me.
ADVICE: Get moving! You get one body and it requires life long activity and strength training.
If I had a dollar for every person I know in the 40+ age range who has had a run-in with skin cancer, I’d be a hundred-aire. No, that is not a real word.
I am guilty of having baked like a turkey for hours in the unforgiving Florida sun. I practically lived at the beach on the weekends. I’m in the clear now and I’m hoping my ethnicity pulls me some luck in the skin department. Ever since my 30’s I’ve been slathering on the sunscreen daily. Especially when I go on my runs.
ADVICE: Sunscreen EVERY day. It’s just not worth the cancer scare.
Sleep is Overrated
I remember a work colleague named Joan who was in her sixties when I was twenty. She used to always tell me I was burning the candle at both ends.
She was right.
I worked full-time in an office, went to school full-time and sang in a band four times per week. I also carved out time to go dancing and be twenty. If I got five hours of sleep I was thrilled.
Now I need at least seven hours, which means Mami gets to bed very early to be able to pull off her 5:00 AM risings.
ADVICE: Keep burning that candle while you can. Sleep is overrated and you’ll eventually get to the point where you can’t deprive yourself anymore. Just remember to take it easy when you are feeling run down. Sometimes you need to just recharge the batteries.
It’s OK To Be Judgmental
Hold on before you judge me on this.
See what I did there?
I was raised by parents who were very judgmental about drugs. It’s just the way things are in Hispanic culture, especially their generation. They basically called anyone who did drugs “trash”.
While I know as an adult that many people actually struggle with addiction and they aren’t “trash”, it was a great deterrent. I certainly didn’t want to be considered a trashy person, so I always declined when the drugs were offered.
It’s a tough one, because as a parent I’ll say anything to keep my kids away from things I know will harm them and their chances for a good future. I do talk a lot about how people who abuse drugs end up ruining their lives and how partaking is basically playing Russian roulette. You never know if you are going to be an addict.
And frankly, I don’t want my kids hanging out with friends who are using drugs or doing things I don’t want them exposed to.
ADVICE: If using judgement helps you keep your kids safe, then by all means, do it.
Be Young and Stupid
While I get the sentiment of that statement about wisdom being wasted on the young, I don’t really agree with it.
You see, the beauty of youth is in the ignorance of it all. When you are young you are not aware of how amazing it is. So you live with abandon and make your mistakes and that’s OK.
There will be more than enough time for reflection when you are older and the wisdom starts to set in.
So go forth and be young and stupid and free.
But make sure you wear your sunscreen, exercise and stay away from drugs.
That is all.
I’d love to know what you would tell your younger self to keep doing or not do.