Oh, how nice it is to be young (again). You’re free to do almost anything you like, and your life is just starting out. Everything is still in front of you, as the elderly often tell young people. Because youth is the ‘beginning’ stage of life, the symbolism of youth is often nostalgic and optimistic.
Whether it’s finding your first love, landing your first job, traveling with your friends, or enjoying parties and meeting new people, youth is full of opportunities. Almost everyone in the world would give everything just to relive a part of their youth.
So what does youth symbolize? And what are some of the symbols that often represent youth in literature and in everyday life? Let’s find out.
The Symbolism of Youth – 9 Things Youth Represents
We mainly connect youth to positive symbols, but sometimes, it can have a slightly negative connotation, too.
Life’s just starting out, and it’s sprawling with opportunities. In almost any area of life, there’s room for improvement. And because of that, almost everyone has a chance to become anything they want in their youth, as long as they choose the right path and try their best.
That’s why we often connect youth to optimism. Yes, the future is slightly uncertain (at least to most younger people), but at least there’s something to look forward to. Life’s just starting out, and that’s when we’re most enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.
Whenever we think about our youth, we think about the fun times we had during our early adolescent years. That’s the time when we’re still relatively carefree and free to do almost everything we want.
Whether it’s traveling, finding new friends, or those fun times you had at various crazy parties – the youth is full of interesting events that shape and sculpt us into persons when eventually become.
There’s an element of playfulness about youth, too. Young people are full of vigor and energy, and the world seems bright and easy to tackle when we’re young.
3. Health and Strength
In our youth (from ages 18-25), it’s fairly safe to say we’re at our peak when it comes to our health and strength. Of course, that can still continue well in our 30s, although it just doesn’t feel the same somehow.
While many elderly people say they are “young at heart”, sometimes it’s just their physical capabilities letting them down from doing things they want to do. When you’re young, you are free to do (almost) anything your heart desires.
A lot of this depends on how we live, though. If we lead a healthy lifestyle from our youth on, then we can definitely extend this period and a youthful look. Although this look has a date of expiry for everyone in the world.
When one’s young, they are free to discover the world and oneself. It’s a time in our lives when we are still slightly naïve, although we’re quickly learning from our mistakes in life. We start to discover our true selves by doing new things and “trying” out the world and its intricacies.
Similarly, we start to explore the world outside of us. Larger parts of the world are still unknown to young people, and many compensate and try to discover it by traveling. We start discovering how things work, from how to love another person to how taxes work.
This symbolism is tied quite closely with discovery, and that’s because they go hand-in-hand with each other. When you start to discover the world, you get a sense of adventure.
It’s also the time when we’re free to be adventurous and explore different avenues of our lives. Almost everyone has a slightly “wild side” to them, and that’s precisely the time when you can express this side outwards without any real consequences.
For many young people, their life is just a playground for taking risks and exploring new things. There’s an element of adventure to it all. That’s why the pirate is also sometimes the symbol of youth – adventurous and risk-taking in nature, and there’s a degree of uncertainty to youth as well.
It’s fair to say that we look our best when we’re young. We’re free of wrinkles and gray hair, two features adolescent people are worried about.
This symbolism is connected to health and strength, too. Elderly people often contemplate and look at pictures when they were young as they have fond memories of their youth, but in a way, they also crave to look as well as they did during their younger days.
As we’ve said, not all symbolisms of youth are positive. This one is a bit of a mixed bag. While life’s exciting and everything seems like an adventure, there’s also an element of uncertainty about one’s future.
Because you can’t predict your future, you’re always asking yourself where you’ll be in 5 or 10 years, or when you’re “fully grown-up”.
There comes a time in your youth when you’re wondering what to do with yourself, which is an inevitable feeling for almost every young person in the world – unless you have a clear idea of what you’ll be in your life from an early age.
When you’re young, you’re like a flower – beautiful and colorful, but also fragile and symbolic of innocence. You’re potentially threatened even by the vaguest and minor things in life – which you eventually start to find silly in your later years.
This is not necessarily a negative symbol, though. Even though you’re fragile, you’re learning how to cope with this feeling and eliminate it as much as possible. This is a great thing for coping with difficult times in our adulthood.
This symbol overlaps with the symbolism of lambs, which of course are by definition youthful animals”
How often do you hear the phrase “young and naïve” when you talk about young people? It’s quite a common one, and that’s because it’s true. We’re quite reckless when we’re young, and we’re still learning how to fix our decision-making and optimize it.
You’re easily distracted by things that bring short-term benefits without focusing on the long-term future. This naivety can cost you dearly in your youth, but it also serves as a lesson for your future self.
5 Symbols that Represent Youth
So we’ve seen what youth represents, but what are some symbols we connect to youth?
Perhaps there’s no better symbol that describes youth than the butterfly. Why?
Because butterflies undergo a metamorphosis – a transformation from the insect to the beautiful butterfly. And just like butterflies, young people are undergoing the transformation from childhood to adulthood.
But there’s another way a butterfly represents youth. A butterfly is a social and active animal, as it wanders from flower to flower, trying to find nectar to allow it to survive and grow. Young people, too, try to find their “nectar” and a sense of belonging by associating themselves with popular people and groups.
The eagle is free and not bound by anything to stay in one place, and so is a young person. Eventually, young eagles are forced to learn how to fly in order to leave their home. If they fail to do so, they are left at the mercy of predators and they will fall down.
And the same goes for young people in a way. It’s a time when you learn about life and also yourself, and you’re trying to become independent. Eventually, you’re looking to leave your parent’s home and establish a life for yourself, just like a young eagle.
This might be a surprising symbol, but it makes sense. As a young person, you’re always looking to belong to a community or a tribe, which is represented by the circle.
These days, it’s all about social media. Being active on social media and belonging to certain spheres is considered important by today’s youth.
The star symbolizes the desire of young people to feel important and to become famous. Sometimes, stars are associated with magic, although when we think about young people, it’s more about being important and becoming famous.
Just like a flower, young people look their best when they’re young; when it becomes old, the flower withers and eventually dies out.
In this sense, flowers can represent our lives in their entirety. In their early stages when they blossom, flowers are attractive and full of life.
Youth is responsible for providing us with some of the fondest memories in our lives. Many people like to remember their youth due to the positive and mixed experiences they underwent in this period of their lives.
While we’re the most optimistic and positive in this time period, we’re also very naïve and somewhat reckless. It’s a period of learning for us, and transformation into grown-up people. We hope these symbols of youth have gotten your creative spirits flowing!
I’m Chris and I run this website – a resource about symbolism, metaphors, idioms, and a whole lot more! Thanks for dropping by.