A Little Happier: Am I Wasting My Youth?

I remember very clearly a moment from college. I was a junior, up in stacks of Yale’s Sterling Library, where I was studying for an exam–which if I remember correctly, was about the history and culture of Japan in the Heian period. And while I was studying, I could look down at the crowd gathering outside Toad’s, a famous bar in New Haven that features live music. And the question struck me: “Am I wasting my youth?” I didn’t even want to go to Toad’s, but still…was studying alone in this library the right thing for me to be doing? You know, I still think about that question. Was I wasting my youth? I don’t think so. I suppose you can never really know the answer to a question like that. For one thing, I still re-read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon from time to time, and that strange, brilliant book absolutely had an influence on my own writing. So maybe I was doing exactly what I should have been doing. But even if it’s not always possible to decide whether one course of action is a waste of time or not—nevertheless, it’s an important question to consider. Am I wasting my youth, am I wasting this time of life?




Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.