Youth (isn’t always) wasted on the young


I'll bet George Bernard Shaw had just gotten home after partying with a bunch of 50-something friends complaining of neck, knee and back issues when he penned his now classic quote, "Youth is wasted on the young."

I’ll bet he was also suffering from a host of aches and pains himself when he lamented his lost youth with so memorable a phrase. But, while I understand the essence of Shaw’s words, I sure don't subscribe to them.

That's because, as I turn 59 this Sunday, I'm enjoying a much fuller and more rewarding life now than I did ever did as a youth (Note the side-by-side photographs of Repman today, and his 24-year-old younger self).   

When I was 24, I had no real idea about the world at large, emerging trends or what was, or wasn't, important in my newly-chosen profession. Sure, I knew how to write a press release, generate placements and manage a client relationship. But, beyond that, I was clueless. I had no real opinions about politics, business or technology. My focus was work and women. Period.

I considered myself physically fit, but did little more than run a few miles every day. And my diet rivaled that of the pre-stomach band Chris Christie’s. Believe it or not, I feasted on a steady diet of McDonald’s and Devil Dogs.

The 24-year-old me would have never contemplated mountain climbing as a pursuit. It simply never entered my consciousness. Today, though, I can say I’ve successfully summited mountains in the Alps, the Andes, the Rockies and Tanzania. The 24-year-old me wouldn’t have been up to the physical, mental or emotional demands needed to climb the Empire State Building much less Mt. Kilimanjaro.

As a young man, I envied the likes of Johnny Carson, George Carlin and Richard Pryor. But, I never would have thought of performing stand-up comedy or improvisation in front of a live audience. I simply didn’t possess the self-awareness, self-confidence and self-deprecating sense of humor necessary to succeed on stage.  Now, I perform all the time and all over the country.

And, back in 1978, I positively adored Muhammad Ali. But, I never would have contemplated putting on a pair of gloves and learning to box. Now, I do it twice a week.

The young Repman could never have churned out a fresh blog on a daily basis either. I wouldn’t have known where to begin. Ditto for my column on I simply lacked the intellectual depth and rigor.

So, Mr. Shaw, I must say that I vehemently disagree with your observation. Youth isn’t wasted on the young. At least not all the time. And, certainly not in my case.

I’m hoping there are others who agree with my disagreement.

Either way, I'd love to hear from readers of a certain age. Do you agree with me? Or, like G. B. Shaw, do you feel youth is indeed wasted on the young?

12 thoughts on “Youth (isn’t always) wasted on the young

  1. Fair enough. And, certainly true that I didn’t understand the only limitations in life are the one’s I placed on myself. So, if I knew then what I knew now…

  2. I agree with Shaw: Youth IS wasted on the young…only because we don’t have the wisdom of experience, which comes with age, to appreciate the advantages of being young. It’s catch-22. Happy Birthday!

  3. And, in 1978, a guy named Ronald Reagan was contemplating another run at the White House. And the Red Sox blew a 14-game lead over the Yankees. And, I believe I was dating a woman named Angela Hetzel at the time (a former Miss New Jersey, thank you very much). Maybe youth is wasted on the young.

  4. Yes, indeed Book. It’s the very same tie. I kept it as a memento of my first day of work at Hill & Knowlton in 1978. The photograph was snapped during my first month at work (and used as part of a new business pitch to American Trucking Association). My first assignment was to try and convince the American public that truck drivers were safe, fuel conscious dudes.

  5. Good post, happy birthday. One question: Is that the same tie in both pictures? Oh and I agree with you. I would never have done some of the things I’m doing now back then. It would not have occurred to me try something out of my comfort zone, I do that now with both public speaking and yoga. Hitting 50 was a milestone in more ways than one.