Exploit the Advantage of Youth and Win Big

Take it from an old man.

Image by Nate Miller

Now I may be as ancient as the great redwoods of California, at an overripe age of thirty-eight years old, but I promise I’ll refrain from making this story a bitchfest. To be absolutely sure I can honor that promise, I cried into my pillow for quite a few hours before I wrote this piece to get it out of my system.

This story is strictly about why taking control of your life in your youth is a huge power move.

Your youth is being fetishized

You may not realize it, but just because your skin is as soft as a baby’s buttocks, people will fawn all over you.

You represent something they’re envious of now that they’re old decrepit crypt keepers: youth.

They look at you in awe, thinking anything you do is magical and amazing! After all, you’re younger than them, so there’s no way you should be able to do whatever it is that you did yet.

There’s this weird perception thing where people’s brains never flip the switch to “old mode” as they age, so they can’t quite reconcile the fact that young people have arrived to replace them. Old people think that they’re still young people and they believe young people are still babies.

Just look around for real-life examples: people flip the heck out when a baby does basically anything.

The bottom line: the more impressive you can seem at the earliest age you can manage, the more wow factor you can pump out of it. So milk it, you babies.

You have less responsibility

There is a genuine possibility that, when you’re young, you have less responsibility than you’ll ever have ever again in your life.

That means, assuming you’re not squandering your privilege, you have more time to dedicate to studying to get ahead in whatever field you choose.

Have you ever come across amazing artwork on the internet only to find out a sixteen-year-old did it? Have you heard the story of Akiane Kramarik, who painted a realistic portrait of Jesus Christ when she was only eight years old? She learned fast! Apparently, homeschooling helped.

Of course, Akiane is an extreme example of something young people have done when they leverage their available time to maximize their skills. I’m not saying you have to be a child prodigy to get ahead.

It’s just that when you get older, you work full time and manage more of your own life than you do in your youth. It’s tiring.

Let’s say you decide your job isn’t working for you anymore in your thirties. At that point, it’s going to be harder to switch things up. You might have a house or a family or even worse: both! You’ll have to find extra energy on the side to work on building a new skill that doesn’t quite pay the bills yet. Going back to school or pursuing a new interest becomes extremely tough, and you’ll be at a disadvantage to the Akiane’s of the world. I can’t even promise you’ll be able to make it happen.

In your youth, when you have the lowest level of responsibility you’ll ever have, you can learn at the highest level of your life. Don’t throw away your shot, kid.

Your ability to plan

The power of planning can’t be overstated when you’re young.

Some people have retired in their 20’s or 30’s simply because of their ability to plan their life extremely well. The sooner you get a grip on what you want, the better you can plan everything out.

We’re talking about what you’re going to study, where you’re going to school, how long you’ll be there, what type of job you’re getting, how much you can expect to make, how much you’ll make if you invest, etc. You can decide when or if you want to have a family or buy a house and work it around your goals. You can totally plan to optimize your life.

The sooner you decide what you want and start investing in yourself, the more it will pay off over time. Skilling up in your youth is like compound interest.

The world is yours

Build the future you want by taking charge of your present.

If you exploit youth’s advantage by deciding what you want out of life as early as you can, you’ll win big. Yeah, maybe I sort of glossed over the fact that it’s no easy feat to accomplish, and self-doubt is a bastard, but you have far more time to figure it out now than you ever will. By the time you’re in your late 20’s it will be too late; you’ll become one of us old people, diminish, and go into the west like those elves in Lord of the Rings.

Okay, fine, I’m just kidding. It’s never too late to take control of your life, but in the long run, you should take control as soon as you can. So get to it!

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Artist and blogger. I help people bring more art into the world: natedoesart.com

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