Amplifying the voice of every amazing woman

An Essay On Youth

Words by Rochi Zalani

Theme: Youth

There’s no such thing as ‘having it all figured out.’ Everyone’s winging it at life.

I have a secret to share. We’re all friends here, right?

Here goes: I don’t miss my childhood. Or to frame it positively: I love getting older. I know, I know, what even, right?

This is not to say I would’ve rather skipped childhood altogether, but just that those stories aren’t tempting enough for me to want to go back.

It isn’t because I had a bad childhood — quite the contrary. I got decent grades, had a healthy social life, dated enough to learn hard lessons early, and grew up to be a well-rounded & confident adult.

It isn’t because my life now is more exciting than average either. I have my share of bad days (one too many sometimes, tbh), crappy moods, and I’m-still-not-too-sure moments. I’m learning, becoming, and most of all, questioning — How to do taxes? When in real life do I use the calculus I learnt at school? Do I really have to decide what to make for dinner every day?

But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This isn’t a new realization: I’d say I want to “grow up very fast” when I was only 11. The older I got, the more I loved it. Since this is a pattern I can see myself reliving every birthday for the last decade, I think it’s safe to say that the trend will only continue.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about why.

Why I love getting older: let’s blame the internet, please?

I love that we can blame the internet (and our parents, duh!) for everything. It may or may not have anything to do with my desire to get older quickly — but it 100% had a negative impact in rubbing that itch for all the wrong reasons.

How? Here were my top #2 reasons for wanting to get older:

  • I love having agency (children have none)
  • I wanted to have this ‘life’ thing all ‘figured out’

Spoiler alert that can save you a whole lotta time: There’s no such thing as ‘having it all figured out.’ Everyone’s winging it at life. I learned it the hard way. There’s no point when life is ‘in your control.’ Certainty is a mirage.

But the Gary-vee tribe on Twitter don’t know that, do they? Not to sound like a total victim, but I hopped on the be-productive-all-the-time-and-retire-at-35 bandwagon pretty quick. I just wanted to have it all figured out. After all, getting older means having your life sorted… right?

*40-somethings laugh in the background*

I know it is the opposite for many people. Many folks are not so happy at the thought of getting older. Some are shaken if they haven’t achieved what they thought they would, others lament ageing, and few unicorns stay “29” forever because acknowledging it just makes it too real.

But what happened with me was I was freaking out over “I still haven’t figured it all out yet even though I’ve reached the age when I should’ve” — which further led to doing many things I wasn’t proud of. Things I cringe to look at now: Nights spent agonising about things that don’t matter. Being cruel to people I love. Seeking validation from people who just don’t care for me.

Thankfully, I hopped off the hustle porn train and realized at 20-ish that this is life, and at no point will I feel I will have it all figured out.

I will always have a leaking pipe or some bulb that needs repairing. There will be conflicts with people I love. Work will be difficult and some days I’ll feel that I have no purpose. Things like a pandemic will wipe away my plans so that something better can happen instead. I’ll have to make snacks every day for the rest of my life. I’ll cringe at past versions of myself, even if I was proud of them at the time.

I understood what I meant by “wanting to get older quickly” was just maturity — attempting to understand the world in all its glory. This realization gave being youthful an emotional value rather than something that’s dependent on a man-made number.

The world has a bad habit of writing off women after they reach a certain age. Don’t let that happen.

You’re a youth (even if you don’t “look” it)

Let me tell you what youth is through the stories of three “old” women in my life:

  • My grandma is 83 years old. She’s sporadically active through her Facebook accounts and comments cute grandma things on my high school pictures. When my aunt pushes her to try something new, like singing karaoke, she hops on with no hesitation. There are many better singers in the world — but no one’s quite like her.
  • The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree: My 62-year old mom is the youngest soul I know. She can’t wait to retire and build a home garden for herself. When I am not busy, she asks me how to use an app to learn English. She’s a patented dialogue about grabbing opportunities that live in my mind rent-free: “How do you know it’s a “no” if you never ask?
  • My aunt — the same age as my mother — participates in teaching kids in public schools. She has set up a vegetable garden and goes to local community discussions. Whenever we meet, she’s got plenty of questions on how she can utilize her phone even better to stay an active, productive member of society.

The world has a bad habit of writing off women after they reach a certain age. Don’t let that happen.

Ads that run on your appearance insecurities just make it worse: Buy this to reverse ageing! Cream to reduce dark circles! Have you tried this magical potion that makes your wrinkles disappear?

You don’t have to look young to be youthful. Many 20-somethings have the despair of a 90-year old man. Plenty of 70-year old grandmoms live lives more exciting than their 30-year old anxious granddaughter’s.

And if you really think about it, the premise is ridiculous: Why force interesting, curious, playful kids to grow serious and boring just because they’ve turned XYZ number? Joyous kids should grow up to be entertaining, lighthearted, driven adults. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t.

Instead of freaking out about turning 20,30,40,50, own it. Dance with gratitude and laugh at your past self. Count your blessings. Arrive at that number in the messy, glorious self you are. Become a conscious participant in your own life.

Okay, but how?

I hear you saying “Huh, easier said than done. Life doesn’t work this way. You can’t be young all your life” with your arms crossed like the old, grumpy uncle that ruins children’s’ birthday parties.

But there’s a way to let the child in you live — get excited about fresh apples, play football with your boss at 6 PM because work’s done, laugh without a care in the world, ask dumb questions to Google or your mom or your manager, and try to dance on TikTok, do whatever.

Let no one tell you that you’ve got to kill the youth in you just because “you’re too old for this.” Give them candy or a hug or both.

Brb, telling my family that we’re gonna have Mac & Cheese for dinner.

Rochi is a freelance content writer and a closet poet. When she is not whipping up a storm on issues of feminism, she writes bookish essays that can be found on her website or chatting with her newsletter community . If you believe there’s nothing that can’t be cured with some fresh poetry or a F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode, say to Rochi on Twitter or Instagram.

Rochi Zalani nominates Yashika Doshi


The purpose of Artemis is to increase the range and diversity of stories shared and written by women. Therefore, Artemis has one rule, nominate! To write for us you must either nominate someone or have been nominated, so if know you a woman who has a great story to share, fill in the details below!