I remember when I was a newbie driver some 12 years ago. I was excited; I was thrilled because finally, I could get into a car and move it on the road by myself. Without the help of a driving instructor or friend. My “learner vehicle” was an old, hitherto abandoned Mazda 626 which had to be retrieved from the mechanic’s workshop for my driving lessons. It was a car none of my siblings would touch with a long pole because it would “demarket” them. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to drive and anything on wheels was good enough.
The decrepit state of the car meant that it was lacking some vital parts. It was missing a side mirror, an extra tyre, among other bits. But it wasn’t a source of concern for an enthusiastic me. Now, I had started driving long distances, and there was the risk of getting pulled over and punished by road traffic officers for the obvious infractions going on the highway with a less-than standard car constituted, but again, I wasn’t too bothered.
The thrill of being able to drive was all the high I needed.
These days, I look back and marvel at my reckless naivety. I keep wondering what would have happened if I had lost a tyre and needed a spare in the middle of nowhere or if the non-existent side mirror and my questionable expertise had resulted in an accident.
I am a lot older now and wiser now. At the point where I cannot imagine taking that sort of risk anymore because it just doesn’t make any sense. Plus, there’s a lot more to lose.
At the time, however, I felt a rush.
The sort of rush you feel when you embark on a dangerous mission and make it out unscathed.
On the one hand, it’s what makes youth beautiful. The feeling of invincibility.
How death seems like such an impossibility or a concept that’s light-years away. The belief that one can do anything without consequences.
I mean, even for someone like me who’s cautious most of the time, I have taken quite a few risks in life, and still do. How much more, an individual who has a natural proclivity for adventure.
Add the raging desires of youth to that and there’s no avoiding some level of recklessness.
It’s like a rite of passage. You know…that thing that you must do to earn your spot on the next level. The sort of phase you’d rue missing out on 20 years down the line.
Youth is a gift. One that should be cherished and leveraged because it’s fleeting.
At some point, you are forced to slow down because there’s just too much to lose—ageing parents and young kids are major reasons to curb the laissez-faire lifestyle for a more conservative one.
I often wonder when restless devolves into reckless.
At what point does the young person’s “hot blood” stop being an excuse for the mischief they get into?
I mean, it’s okay to attend one or two wild parties or have a few drinks, but when a young man of 25 has four baby mamas, do we still attribute that to youthful exuberance or is it a clear case of irresponsibility?
If a young lady has many sexual partners, yet refuses to protect herself to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, do we deem it to not be a big deal on account of her youth or do we tag it a reckless behaviour?
The dichotomy between restlessness and recklessness is what every youngster should try to identify.
It might be okay to test the limits once in a while—but any venture that has the potential to have far-reaching effects—should be given a rethink.
Young people need to know they are not invincible.
While there may be some leeway to make more than a few mistakes, it doesn’t preclude you from the consequences of your actions. It’s why we have people who are well advanced in years who still regret the life-defining error they made when they were “young and free”.
There’s the burst of energy and drive that is almost exclusive to the youth, but there’s also the ever-present danger of veering off the course in an irredeemable way; the aftermath of unchecked shenanigans.
I am all for milking any advantage one has; either as a young, middle-aged or senior citizen.
Nonetheless, the ones who tend towards rebellion are the young, and that’s why they must rein in their excesses.
You are young—you are not infallible—always remember that.