A ‘Wonderful Life’ awaits those who search for it

By Ellen Barczak , Columnist

Its 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and you and your family have settled down to watch Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” on NBC. An undeniable American classic, this film simply teems with profound meaning and existential queries.

I have personally watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” once a year, every year, since I was 8 years old. Though I deeply enjoy the tradition and nostalgia associated with the annual viewing of this cinematic masterpiece, what strikes me as most remarkable about the movie is its ability to leave me with a different concept to ponder every year.  

In a year, every person changes in some way or another; we learn, we grow we evolve. When I was young, I loved Zuzu and her petals and strove to mimic the purity of her faith and optimism. As I got a bit older, I felt utterly enchanted by Mary and George’s true love. This year, however, I took one particular line to heart. Although Capra’s film boasts a myriad of concise, poignant and thought-provoking quotes, my favorite has become: “Youth is wasted on the wrong people.”

As a young person watching this movie, I’ve always pondered the crotchety old man’s motivation for blurting out such a statement. Why did he think George wasted his youth? What did youth really mean? Wasn’t adulthood better, anyway? Was I wasting my youth? If so, what could I do to change that?

As a college freshman, this shocking and perhaps confusing statement is one worth pondering. Youth, to me, signifies freedom and unadulterated happiness. We are young . We are strong, healthy, vibrant and uninhibited by serious responsibility for such a short time in relation to our whole lives.

So, what are we to do with these special years? Some choose to party as much as physically possible, while others choose to dedicate their time solely to academic success. Some choose to become physically fit and healthy, while others choose to ride out their speedy metabolism as long as it will allow them.

Some are active members in their community, while others prefer to enjoy community benefits without playing a part in planning them. At this point in our lives, at this University, we are offered a veritable plethora of opportunities to mold ourselves into whatever kinds of people we wish to be.

Sounds good, right? Well, more often than not, the sheer quantity of options offered holds the power to overwhelm the most put-together of individuals. But, fear not! We have four whole years (at least) here to prove that old man from “It’s a Wonderful Life” wrong.

Surprisingly, proving him wrong is simpler than it may appear. To take advantage of one’s youth, an individual need only search for themselves and follow the path which that search provides.

College, and youth, contrary to popular belief, is not about finding yourself. It is about the search, the journey, and pursuit of who you truly are and what you truly want out of life. Your youth can only be wasted if you fail to chase your own happiness and success.

The world is your oyster. Go find that pearl and remember the lessons you learn along the way, for they are what define the dynamic of your youth.

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