* * *
“You must need to study hard; otherwise your future will be dark. You will end up being a failure.”
My tired heart says,
“Can you please change the topic? I’m sick of listening to these again and again.”
What you do today shapes your future, I know. But the present is all that matters to young people and we want to live our lives in the present. We, young people, want to enjoy life like crazy. The society wants us to dedicate our present for future – a good career, success, reputation. While doing that, we forget about who we are and what our purpose is.
My head says, “Wake up and listen to the adults, face the reality. Otherwise, you will end up regretting when it is too late.”
My heart says, “Let me go my own way. That is my reality. What is wrong if I want to live differently?”
In the end of the day, we are the ones who will be living our lives. Adults need to guide us, mentor us, teach us but in the end, we are the leader of our own lives.
* * *
Our English language private tutor was taking a class on a story named ‘A parrot’s tale’. He told us that it was a symbolic story. Every time he explained the story, my heart broke. In the end I was in the verge of tears. Because, our lives are just the same. Our souls are dying just the same way. We run after private tutors, and when we come back home, exhausted, we still have bundles of homework or lessons. The process is somewhat inhuman. No one cares about our mental health or physical health, not even us.
Sir asked us, “Do you guys play in the afternoon?”
At his question, everyone burst into laughter. Painful laughter. We reacted like, “Sir, are you kidding us?”
“It shouldn’t be this way,” sir said.
I agree. It shouldn’t be this way. We need to stay alive. The world needs us.
* * *
The word was kind of alien to me years ago. But now, depression, anxiety, panic attacks –I am familiar with these terms. That is not the problem; the problem is the number of people who suffer from these disorders are increasing day by day. Among people around me, a significant number of them feel mentally unwell often. I am one of them.
I think several factors are responsible for this sudden uprising of mental health problem. Chronic loneliness, lack of social connection, lack of connection with family members due to hectic schedules – these are some of the factors.
We are exchanging our happiness for a materialistic society and mechanical life.
* * *
Perfectionism and comparison – I thought these are something that you have to withstand while living in society. I am not good enough – I thought thinking that was a normal part of our life.
But then, I came across the concept – Love yourself.
I have scars. I am imperfect. I make mistakes. But that is just a part of being human. Making mistakes doesn't make me a bad person. I can fix them if I try. Sometimes, I need to do better, I have to be a better version of myself everyday, I need to learn from others. But I should never hate myself for being who I am.
* * *
Life is a journey of finding ourselves.
I started thinking about who I am after starting loving myself. Of course, you cannot love someone until you know them properly. Despite being with ourselves 24/7, we know ourselves the least. We barely know about ourselves. Who I am, what I love, how my personality is – I need to learn about them more.
* * *
Internet and the concept of globalization opened the door to a new world to me.
It was another world. Different from the one I had been living for 15 years. I felt like I belonged to that world more than the one I lived in. In other words, I felt more like a global citizen.
Through internet, I have discovered that I am not alone. There are a lot of young people, who think like me and go through same pains and same situations like me. Through internet, I found BTS, Voices of Youth, Write the World. I found a way to make myself heard. Not only that, I learned about cultures that were different than ours through internet. I learned about new concepts and things that I cared about.
But there was a dark side.
At times, I felt like this can lead to cultural pollution, this can make me forget about my own culture and values. I need to be aware of this while taking the next step.
* * *
I am still young and I have a lot more to experience. But I need to walk on my own path and find my own way. I started walking on my path on my own since my parents trusted me and they let me take my own responsibility since I am 14 or 15.
I believe in learning through making mistakes and taking lessons from them. I want to find my way myself. Of course, supervision and guidance is needed.
Walking by myself and having my own responsibility on my shoulder isn’t an easy task. The road is thorny and there are a lot of paths that I cannot take. I am in a constant fear of losing my way. But still, I want to experiment. I want to know it myself why the wrong is wrong and the right is right. I want to fall and learn to get up on my own. I know it is okay to fall, but the problem is the perfectionist society. They want us to be perfect all the time. I believe that even if I lose my path for a while, there is still chance to find the right path. My path is engraved in my DNA, my map of the soul.
But sometimes you might make such mistakes from which there is no turning back. That is the scary thing about youth. I am in a constant conflict with myself, older generation, my friends and the voices in my head.
* * *
People think that our generation is self-centred and cold-hearted. Maybe at some points that is true. But some of us care about the world much more than they can imagine. We do it in our own way. Look at the older generation, they are self-centred too. They just hide it and pretend to not to be. But the thing is we are just brutally honest. We express freely what goes through our mind instead of sugar-coating it.
People think that failing in study means failing in life. They think if someone doesn’t study hard, than that individual is a failure. But a lot of young people proved that even if you aren’t good at studying, you can still shine.
In most cases, we are underestimated by the adults. People think that we are not mature enough to make our own decisions. They think that we will lose our way if we ever try to walk on our own.
Most of the time, adults around us don't even know about our potentials. Those potentials remain hidden from them as they don't value them in most cases.
Especially, about our generation, people say that we are going downhill. But at some points, I think we lived our lives better than them. We could see the light even when darkness seems to swallow everything up. We hold onto hope even when every other generation are overwhelmed by uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest example of this. When adults labelled us as ‘The COVID lost generation’, we proved ourselves as ‘The Welcome Generation’. Instead of losing our way in a time of uncertainty, we found new ways. We found ourselves.
* * *
I want the world to change their thoughts about children and young people. I want us to be treated as full people. I want the adults to understand us. We are not 100% right always. We make a lot of mistakes. We make immature decisions a lot of times. But so does the adults. Just because they are more experienced than us doesn’t mean they have the right to disrespect us and control our lives. Putting aside our egos, the both generation need to come together and make effort to understand each other.
The second thing that is needed to change is the education system. The way we are taught is no longer education, at least in my country. The way we are ‘educated’ cannot teach us values or cannot help unlocking our potentials. It rather does the opposite. This needs to change.
The third and most important thing that needs to change is – discrimination. We are all different. And the thing the world needs the most is the mindset to accept and embrace these differences, because difference is what makes the world beautiful. Discrimination is something that must be eradicated.
* * *
I personally think educational institutions can play a vital role in making young voices heard. They should give students space to make their voices heard. At young age, most of the students cannot find opportunity to make themselves heard on their own. Their schools and colleges should help them find their opportunities. Organizations that work for young people should join hands with educational institutions not only in developed countries, but also in third world countries. Parents should be supportive towards the passions of their children and find them opportunity to express themselves instead of shutting them up. They should give the young ones a chance to let them bloom.
* * *
My youth is certainly different than my other family members, who are members of older generation. I care about topics like mental health, loving myself, passion and dream, my mindset is different than that of previous generation, I am more open to different cultures and I feel like a global citizen, I listen to music different than them – like this. I don't know whether it is good or bad. Let’s not compare. My life is what I got to live.
I am happy that I could start working on what I love before reaching adulthood. I am happy that I could leave my marks on the world as a young person.
I am proud to be a member of the Welcome Generation.