Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Real World Wednesday

On Being Young.

What does it mean to be young?

Is young when you're a child? When you're in high school? When you're 22?

I ponder this not only for myself but also in light of the current presidential campaign. Barack Obama is being pegged as young and inexperienced, yet the man probably remembers the 70's like I remember the 90's. Obama is married, has two children, has more than one college degree under his belt and has served in the senate. Plug that in to someone born, oh, let's say 19 years after him, and he certainly doesn't seem like the same kind of "young."

When do we stop being young? Do we ever? And no, this is more than that "young at heart" business. This is real youth.

My peers and I are not all that far from 30, but we are all at the point in our careers when we're both looked down upon for our youth and praised for our energy. But in ten years, or even five, when the next crop of overachieving graduates enters our field and seems oh so much younger what will that make us?

Is it all a matter of perspective? My over-25 friends all seem young when we think about our over 30 friends, our over-40 co-workers, our over-50 parents. Then, we encounter a group of 20 or 21-year olds and suddenly feel old.

Obama is young in comparison to John McCain, who quite possibly remembers the 1940's like Obama remembers the 1970's and I remember the 1990's. Obama is also young in comparison to your typical president. The youngest elected president was Theodore Roosevelt at 42. So, at nearly 47, Obama falls after four prior presidents. He would not be the youngest, yet his youth is a major factor in this presidential campaign, as was Bill Clinton's.

I can remember that Bill Clinton took advantage of his relative youth. He played sax on the Arsenio Hall Show. He and Hillary danced like maniacs to Fleetwood Mac. He took advantage of the fact that he was neither George H. W. Bush or Bob Dole. Barack, on the other hand, seems to want to shove his youth under a rug.

In any case, it seems to me that youth can be used for or against someone. It's all just a matter of perspective.

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