Most people associate the best years of their lives with the days of their youth, maybe because they had no responsibilities to tie them down.
In today’s magazines and newspapers that purport to provide youth with words of wisdom, a well known clich├ê happens to be: treasure your youth and don’t let it pass by with regrets while those older view the past with regret saying, in turn, ├¼It’s a shame that youthfulness is wasted on the young.├«
Almost all youth have come across an elderly person who has passed this particular advice to them. What is it really about?
According to citizens above 40, one must enjoy and celebrate their lives while they are still young, in school and have no responsibilities whatsoever.
Once one has gotten married, found a job, and has had children, there is no time for fun and one’s life is dedicated to other people’s well being and survival instead of his/her own.
The famous clich├ê has also instilled fear in most of the youth that heed elderly advice because they are still grappling to come to terms with what it is that is expected of them so that tomorrow the regrets don’t pile up.
While most of the time the advice is given with genuine concerns, it has its disadvantages.
A particular section of the youth, especially boys, would go to all lengths to celebrate their freedom from responsibilities. And they do it with anything, from heavy binge drinking to racing in speeding cars to pump up their adrenaline as a way of feeling alive and gaining the untouchable feeling of escaping death after staring at it in the face. A bit extreme, one might say, but some people don’t have any idea as to the lengths that the open-minded youth of today will go to in the name of fun.
The extreme sagas also happen to be among the things that one is likely to remember when they are grown up and feeling as if their lives are devoid of something they can’t quite explain.
The boys we call extremists will also go to the extent of picking up different girls at nightclubs (before the wife comes along in a few years to ruin it all; boys, too, just want to have fun) thus increasing their chances of causing the opposite of what they intended to do. They will most likely add to the statistics of those who died by the number one killer in Botswana, AIDS, or they are left prone to road accidents that have left many dead, and alcohol makes matters even worse.
Does enjoying your youth mean doing all the risky things one in their 40s wouldn’t think of doing? Is the fun worth it?
Will it be enough to grant satisfaction for how they have spent their time?
Day by day, one is bound to receive advise of some sort, especially from married people, on how one should treasure their lives and celebrate being young but they never tell us how best to go about it.
All the partying, binge drinking nights, camping sprees, sleepovers and heartbreaker stages: will they be enough? Are they ever enough?
SUNDAY STANDARD carried out yet another random interview session at Game City Mall.
Gaone Kebareng, an attractive 58-year-old woman who retired early, was more than eager to share her take on enjoying one’s youth.
According to Kebareng, she had been a very intelligent girl ever since she was young. Respectful to her parents and always home on time, doing what she was told and always reading her books. She never had time for friends and was absolutely absorbed in her school work. The situation worsened when she got accepted at the university to do her Bachelor of Sciences degree.
She took pre-med, which was a time consuming course, thus her social life ceased to exist.
She had often caught people whispering about her “wasted beauty├« but she didn’t care because she was working hard to provide for her family one day.
She went overseas and when she came back, she found a job as a doctor, which also took up most of her time. She never had time to make friends or just think about her life.
Kebareng only started socializing when she was 38.
She met a woman, who is now still her best friend. The woman tried teaching Kebareng the good life of partying and having a bit of fun.
“Kate and I were always the oldest women in the club and it didn’t feel right to be the centre of negative attention. But I felt like I was only beginning to live after 38.”
Kebareng advises the youth to be hard workers but to leave room for a healthy social life, no matter how limited it is because youth comes as fast as it goes so one should spend their life investing in memories that might be of positive significance to them later.
Dinkie Raditladi, 38, recently got divorced after 20 years of marriage in which two kids were born.
Raditladi says she regrets getting married at a very young age because she missed out on a lot of things that she cannot cover now.
“I’ve only had one man in my life and now he has left me. I am now ugly and overweight because of the kids I bore for him; I don’t think any man will want me now.”
Raditladi’s advice to the youth is not to get married at a young age as this would be the biggest mistake ever. She knows; she has been married for over twenty years only to have her husband leave her for a younger woman.
“What makes the young women think men won’t do the same thing to them?”
Raditladi says that things like marriage shouldn’t be rushed into.
“If you are sure that you will be spending the rest of your life with that person, then why the rush? ‘Forever’ does not have a limit does it? Yes, people die and terrible things happen, but it still doesn’t justify the need to ruin someone’s life over issues that can wait.├«
If she could go back in time to change her life, Raditladi says she wouldn’t marry Jeff again even though they did love each other for a number of years.
├¼It wasn’t worth the consequences that I now face.├«
She wishes to know how it would have been like to kiss another man except her ex husband.
“When I met him, he was just so charming and too good to be true. I thought I had found the one, so why wait? I kick myself everyday because I missed out on so much after marrying young,├« said Raditladi.
She advises all that you have to kiss many frogs before one turns into a prince.
├¼Apply patience to your tactics then maybe something of benefit might surface.├«
Dinkwe Dinkwe, a 35-year-old Marketing Officer in Gaborone, believes that one shouldn’t spend their last years reminiscing about what could have been or what they should have done but he is all for having one or two regrets down the line as it is human nature to err.
Dinkwe was once what one would call the popular boy at school: handsome, calm and an excellent debater who was also the school’s best runner. Wherever he was, he was the life of the party and never missed an opportunity to have a party or to drink yet his grades never suffered.
He had many girls who only liked him for his popularity.
He remembers many crazy days in his youth. Yet, by his own admission, he has always lacked one thing that he chased away during what he refers to as the best years of his life his youth: the love of a real woman.
“I once had this girl who would do just about anything for me if I asked. She loved me and I knew it, yet I cheated on her many times. After she had had enough, she left me and never looked back. It’s been 12 years now and I haven’t found anyone remotely close to being like her. If only I had been more considerate.├«
His advise to the youth is to live their lives the best way they know how, not to be pressured into having many partners because, at the end of the day, those many partners just won’t fill that gap that she so well knows how to.
Although he doesn’t have regrets, he works at a company where a lot of lives depend on how hard he works.That’s a lot of responsibilities. He now misses the days when the only thing he worried about was whether he had enough money to buy a PUMA t-shirt and whether that nice girl from next door thinks he is cute too!
├¼University/college years are the best years of your life. Try your outmost to reel in every moment because tomorrow you will be wishing you could have done more.├«
Miriam Manqubo, 43, and a teacher in Gaborone, says the part she misses most is her body.
Growing up, Manqubo had low confidence and always found something wrong with her body structure. Now that her breasts have sagged and her hips are swelling, she wants back the body she once shunned.
├¼Compared to now, I was a mini Naomi Campbell but never realized how to appreciate that fact until it was too late. The best years of my life are definitely those when my body was still firm,├« says Manqubo.