To be the youth is by definition to be between childhood and adult age. We are stuck somewhere in between, feeling odd and out of place. We are the misfits who don’t fit into one mould. The crazy ones who always want to try something new. The adventurers who can’t settle down for long. We stand alone but we like to be a part of the crowd. We cannot be defined. We are so many things. None of us are alike and none of us are different. The bottom line is that we are complicated creatures.
We are bogged down by expectations and beaten down by reality. As the so called youth, we have elders shouting at us to do better and our own peers judging us as we try to survive in this harsh world. Our parents expect us to be the best while our friends expect us to agree to everything they say. Trying to navigate this maze is more complicated than what can be said through a few words. Our struggles are numerous yet we are expected to shoulder ever more burdens as we get older.
In an age where social media is where connections are made and broken, we all have an image to uphold. Either you’re the studious nerd or the preppy party animal. As much as we would like to think that society has progressed beyond the traditional categorisation one is most likely to see in American teen novels marketed for romantics, those mindsets still exist among the majority. We now also have to worry about how many likes we get on a post, how many comments and which filter looks best on top of worrying about our education. At this point it seems as if nothing is going the way we want it to.
But we are now a generation that takes these very things that try to push us down and turn them into our strengths. The next door aunty is being nosy and complaining about your behaviour? You hardly care about her opinion because she is irrelevant. What matters to you, is your family and friends. Your school has a rigid system that needs to show results? You are only trying for your sake and no one else’s. Every one of your successes is for yourself and not to show off to anyone. Some might think this mindset is selfish and encourages the growth of closed off people who are no use to the betterment of society.
But we know that it’s the furthest it could be from the truth. Despite being focused on ourselves, we are not unaware of the world around us. We are so much more aware of what the world has come to, perhaps more so than previous generations, simply through the very same things that they consider to be our enemies. Social media has helped movements to start off, for them to grow and to reach audiences across the world. Just look at the Black Lives Matter Movement that started in the United States and spread across the globe. Not only has it worked to alleviate the oppression faced by a majority, it has also inspired similar movements for justice to start off. We are now aware of the wildfires in Australia, the rising number of those affected by Covid-19 in the US and the saddening situation in Yemen as it happens due to social media.
We have inherited what looks like to be a world falling to pieces. Countries are now devastated by the Covid-19 outbreak and everything has taken a backseat. That doesn’t mean that our problems have disappeared. The Ozone layer is still depleting, environmental pollution is still happening, the sea level is still rising and the coral reefs which produce half of Earth’s Oxygen are still being destroyed. As individuals, though it might seem as if we can’t do much; preventing from using plastic products, minimizing waste, even exercising your right to vote despite all candidates seeming to be corrupt, can have a big impact. It is those small steps we take as individuals that build up to a bigger change.
As the youth we have many responsibilities and great things are expected of us, especially with people like Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Desmond Napoles leading the fight against climate change, education for all and gender acceptance respectively.
However not all of us are fated for greatness, nor do we crave it. Some of us stumble on it by chance, some of us are inspired, and some are forced into it while others want to have no part in it. Keeping in mind not everyone is the same, we have to respect their decisions and their paths. But this is not for them. This is a call for all young activists, big or small, even if they don’t regard themselves as such. Welcome to this new revolution. We are here to affect change and we will not back down until we do.