To be Old and Wise You Must First Be Young and Stupid

I saw this quotation on a poster today and I loved it and disagreed with it at the same time. It got me thinking. It would seem that in two small lines of text, every bad decision, every mistake, regret or misdemeanour over my past 26 years was somehow justified. It was like every wrong-doing had just been shrouded in a veil of mature hindsight, disguised as nothing more than one of life’s little lessons.

You mess up so that you can learn from it. You hurt people and you let yourself get hurt, just so you know how it feels and avoid it happening again. You wake up to mornings that succeeded a night you would rather forget. You wake up to mornings that succeeded a night you really wish you could remember. You say words you wish you could take back. You wish you had said words you’ll never get the chance to say again. You make friends, you lose friends; you fall in love and you fall out of it; you drink too much and you sleep too late; get bored at work or, worse, quit your job; you spend money you don’t have, to buy things you don’t need and then when you’re eating the last of the rice at the back of your pantry the week before pay day, with a sore head and 1200 dishes to do, you think, it was worth it, right? Hey, it probably was.

But is being young and stupid a good enough excuse?

I wonder how many of us stuff up only so we can learn from our mistakes. We take risks and we avoid thinking about the consequences of our actions because we’re narcissists and at the time, think it was a grand idea. Next time, we think, we’ll do things differently. Maybe the poster is just a cop out. Maybe it’s a Gen Y alibi. We probably behave stupidly because we don’t think, period. And maybe those who turn out to be wise were always full of the wisdom that we weren’t. Sounds philosophical, it’s not.

I’m a big believer in learning from mistakes. I just don’t think all mistakes need to be made in the first place, that’s all. Being young and stupid isn’t the only way to be old and wise, but don’t take my word for it, i’m not there yet.