Young twenty-somethings are called many things: Reckless, ambitious, wild, free, determined, hardworking, lazy, naïve, etc. All of these words get placed upon us based on how society decides to judge us at the moment. Furthermore, these definitions are fluid, and are applied liberally, changing even throughout the course of one day. I am not upset that the world judges me; frankly such is the nature of human beings. I am not even worried about being mis-labeled by someone who doesn’t know me well enough or who is taking out a personal insecurity on me. What bothers me is when a label is chronically applied to an entire group of people without consideration of why those people may be acting the way that they are.
I have heard the phrase “young invincible” or “young immortal” used to describe younger people. More specifically it is used in the world of health care, with the idea that young people avoid, or purposefully do not get health coverage because they believe that they are immune to disease.
Ultimately young people are not completely in the wrong. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I believe young people are impervious to getting sick, or injured. I have had too many colds to ever believe that. Yet, it is not unreasonable for younger people to believe their bodies, based on youth alone, will be more resilient to illness and injury. Most people I’ve encountered discussing young invincibles act as though we as young people have this mentality because we are naïve or uneducated. This is what I find most frustrating.
It is my belief that this feeling of “invincibility” occurs for two reasons. The first is that most young people who are not getting health coverage are probably barred from getting it due to financial constraints. This applies beyond the health coverage world. Why do young people live in dangerous neighborhoods? Why do they drive old unsafe cars? The answer is, it is cheap. We don’t have the means to purchase expensive safety. Perhaps the reason for our invincible attitude is that we are saving face to the world because we just can’t afford to be safe. Luckily there are new programs that are making access to coverage more affordable for young people.
Now, I’m aware that this only applies to those who truly can’t afford to purchase new cars etc. There is a population of young folks that happen to have financial security. It is my belief that these people have an “invincible” attitude because we are taught that youth is equal to vibrancy and these years are our years to live life fully. With so many examples of middle-aged people worn out and tired from the pressures of life, there is this urgency to enjoy and experience our youth fully. While this attitude is not healthy and seems to only doom us to a bland and unhappy middle-aged existence, I do believe that this desperation to “live it up” breeds an invincible attitude allowing us to be brave while facing the exciting new challenges we face.
Ultimately, I do not challenge the fact that young people do have an invincibility complex. Frankly, I like to pretend to have this complex when I walk into a crowded room in order easily face new situations. I do however believe that we are being done a disservice when people think that our choices are automatic as a result of ignorance. Often times other circumstances make it difficult for us to make any alternative choice and some compassion would be appreciated. Regardless of the reaction, we shall continue to believe ourselves immortals…at least until we are no longer young.