I have been youth-surfing.

I met the teenage daughter of one our directors last year and took an instant liking to her. But of course…who would not like a charming, vivacious, pretty 16-year-old who is intelligent (but doesn’t yet realise that’s going to be her real sex appeal), stylish (but consciously so since recently outgrowing gawkiness). She takes her SATs this year and tells me that her classmates are vying for the most fashionable career options. WHOOOEEE….I yelped…..what business do teenagers have with AMBITION??!! Plenty, according to her since competion is only getting more and more ruthless.

Ah, well, in that case at least make sure to enjoy your break. For heavenssakes, don’t do anything boring and sensible like computer classes or something. Take a dance class, join a radio station…anything!

I hope her parents weren’t listening…perhaps I don’t understand their worry since I’m not a parent but I wonder how anyone can have the heart to stifle a bright-faced youngster’s dreams.

My neighbor’s daughter is preparing for her MBA entrances and I lectured her on not getting too bookish. I told her to spend the day before CAT with her friends, a movie or something and then getting to sleep as normal. Her mother smiled politely and remarked that the younger generation would love me because I gave them fun advice!

There’s also the kid sister of my good friend who’s 21, as bold and devil-may-care as she can manage. But having known her for a decade or more, I also know of her diet fads (because a guy she had a crush on said she was too fat), her chewed nails (nervous over whether she’ll live up to big sister’s sucesses) and her stomach pains (general stress that doesn’t get shown otherwise). She celebrated one year of being with her boyfriend recently. I was of course honoured with the ‘secret knowledge’ some months back. To which I told her, “Be careful but don’t worry too much.” And she said, “I’m taking lots of care. I’ve seen what you and my sister went through.” I really hoped then that our bad choices had not made her cynical. I’m so glad they just made her sensible.

And there’s my yoga teacher’s son, in the hospital with a back injury and fretting over his first semester engineering exams. Phoooeeey, I whistled to him and told him not to be an idiot and spend his teen years worrying. I hope I undid all of mommie’s lectures with my “Lighten up and enjoy your wonder years” talk.

And there’s J who worries about her waning closeness with her kid sister. She said she found her crying in bed one night but that she wouldn’t tell her what was wrong. J said she couldn’t tell sometimes whether her sister loved her anymore or not….they used to be so close once upon a time. I reminded her that her sister had shared one of the biggest events of a teenage girl’s life with her…her first kiss. And I told her to just let her sister find her own individuality and that she’d stop rebelling of her own accord. I wonder if J feels a little jealous when her sister calls me to talk about her career and tattoos (she has one too and is the one who suggested the artist who did mine)

Sooner or later my words will catch up with me. I bet I’ll be banned from talking to the bachchalog then. But honestly….don’t you feel a little bad for the kiddos? I remember all the stress of the 10th boards and 12th boards and wish so much some one had told me then that I wasn’t worthless becuase I wasn’t acing my tests.  And I mightn’t have carried so much heartache if I hadn’t been so worried about comittment and other such big things. I always wished I could have understood some of these things and those years may not have been wasted away in so much of guilt and worry….it was such a needless waste.

These are young people. Younger people. People I’ve watched growing up and learning to make their space in this world. I’m just a few steps ahead and sometimes I’m reminded of my own earlier selves. Somehow I feel very good, rejuvenated when I interact with someone younger. It’s like drinking of life at its source. Is it selfish I wonder, to be saying to them, not sensible things but the contrary? I really do think that a person (especially a young one) needs to embrace their freedom and joy as much as their responsibilities.

To all the young people I will ever have the good fortune to encouter,
with lots of love, then, I promise to always be respectful of your individuality
and, leaving the rest of the world to teach you responsibility, I will remind you of your freedom and only see the most productive, creative side of you as you.

12 thoughts on “Youth surfing”
  1. Dude, seriously, you are too young & too sexy to be writing this sort of post. Youth surfin’ indeed..!

    On another note, (since I’m a lot older & greyer than you) what really gets my goat is when I see these tiny little girls – look like they’re 12 or something – at clubs, with ciggys in one hand (oh, so mod!) and alcohol/drugs/men in the other. Sigh, the bookworms don’t worry me – this lot does.

  2. Tell me something, who classifies young uns from the older ones.. I mean I am 21, but I hate being typecasted in the 21-young-ones category. Can I shift gears to the few steps ahead generation?? Or maybe this question displays exactly why I should be in the former category. 🙁 But even the older ones are confused right?? I mean, everyone is confused, so why categorize according to age, it’d be better to categorize according to knowledge and maturity right?? wrong??… 🙁

  3. you sound old… but its true. kids today are so driven by competition, they sometimes lose themselves in that quagmire. i still wish for a lot of what-if’s in my life from my parents…

  4. 😀 My dear, dear, dears….one of the kiddos I spoke about in the post left a scrap in my book asking why I was so obsessed with age and youth. It is true…I am thinking a lot about age. Actually I always have. When I was 16 I felt and behaved much older. At 25, I realised I had never felt young. Actually I do now….I dress, talk and behave as a much younger person than my passport says I am. But this is with the knowledge of what has been and that makes me…well, older. I am not ashamed of it and I know I have something to give to these young people I’ve mentioned in the post…a return favour perhaps for how young and alive they make me feel!

    DC: I’m chronologically older than you are but you do know I consider you one of the wiser souls I’ve encountered, don’t you?

    Melody: Older and greyer, indeed….I don’t believe that!!!! But yes, I agree with your concern over that lot of kids…they’re being robbd of their childhood and adolescence too and that’s very very worrying.

    Pragni: May I go cliched? (ahh…take pity on this old woman’s ramblings…:D) Thou art as old as thou wants to be. And no one else’s opinion matters.

    Narcisstic: I do? That’s nice….I’ve been a legal adult for less than a decade now….:-P…I’m not THAT old!!!!! And umm….its easiest to blame it on our parents, isn’t it? I did too.

  5. umm… well I guess I dont fit into the image of modern 20 year olds. I mean I love reading writing stuff that most people of my age consider as ” oh so boring !” But I agree wen someone remarked that compeptition is getting tougher n tougher, almost ruthless. My mom goes hyper worrying abt me. Few weeks ago wen I sat for CAT I felt it was not me but my mom who was taking the exam. But I realize my responsibilities too. I have my plans chalked out for me. But I donno hwo far the youth is sensible abt their love life. Mine sucks!!! 🙁

  6. Comments have been made that you seem very old. This worries me for I am readily agreeing with everything you had to say!

  7. @ Everyone: LOL…I am not old, just older. I love being 27, its so much more independence (than the teenage years) and so much less stress (than the early 20s years of career building et al). Don’t worry anyone who identifies with me…that ain’t SUCH a bad thing, you know!!!

  8. Liked this post. I think the best thing you can do with a child/teenager is what you did. Because responsibility is actually an outcome of freedom, everything else is just supression and manipulation really!!

  9. hey! . . the competition these days is so intense that we have no choice but to work hard . . .i thought cut throat competition was just a phrase . . .but now tat iv fnshd a yr of engg im beginning to realize its closer to the truth than i expected!

    govind’s last blog post..I’ve been tagged?!!

  10. @ govind: A long way to go there is and you are still young! Geographic boundaries are shrinking already, with time the age boundaries will as well!

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