For some time now I’ve been trying to find a word that describes the magic of youth – the unspoken energy that makes youth so fearless and non judgmental about themselves and their dreams. This morning I had a discussion with someone who has become a mirror of sorts for me; forcing me to look within and back on my journey thus far – and she doesn’t even know that she challenges me to question things about myself, ha! – and I realized what that magic is. It’s exuberance. A love of life and perhaps more importantly, of learning. It’s placing all bets on yourself when you don’t even know how things will work out and simply trusting that it will. It’s placing your request to God, and sitting back to let the universe conspire on your behalf.
The moment you start thinking you are deserving is when you lose it all. Don’t get me wrong, you are deserving. But when you start dwelling on that fact, you subconsciously categorize things as worthy of you, your attention, time, skills, etc, – or otherwise – and so might eliminate good things and blessings in your life based on your taking face value to them.
I speak of youth as though I’m past the stage. But no, I’m still in it. I’d just forgotten. Forgotten to always seek the why, to be curious, to do things for the heck of it and be non-judgmental. To live in the moment. Think about it, children couldn’t care less what time of day it is. One moment, they laugh, another they cry. It’s in the moment. Yet as we grow up and take on responsibilities, we trick ourselves into thinking its all ‘us’. If I do this or that this or that way then I shall get this or that result. We tie a noose to our necks and limit ourselves and the possibilities.
The exuberance of youth lies in a thirst for learning, discovering, pushing boundaries. You don’t need to sit in front of a chalkboard to learn. In fact, many sit in front of a chalkboard and come out with nothing. Seek ye knowledge. Get to know yourself. These are but some of the teachings of people like Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammed.
The Prophet (saw) advised to: “Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death” (Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim).
The key to always staying youthful is living in the moment, making a conscious decision to learn every day (and that means admitting you don’t know), taking risks, and trusting. And like any good youth, you ought to have a bit of clean fun as well. Stay open, Smile from within. Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.