Being young in 2021 | Karl Gouder

All of us are passing through difficult times, some of us more than others, however it would be very unfair to to think that the people who are suffering least in these moments are our youngsters

We must help our students plan where possible, and we must give them the courage that this pandemic is a temporary blip in their lives
We must help our students plan where possible, and we must give them the courage that this pandemic is a temporary blip in their lives

“Our young are careless, worry free, and passing through the best time of their life.” This is the idea that most of us have of youth in general, and probably some of this is true at least for a good part of youth in normal times. We all look back at our younger ages and with some nostalgia say to ourselves that those times were the best times of our life.

The situation today is very different. The world is passing through turbulent times, over the past year our lives have been turned upside down, and all of us have struggled in some way or another. Probably we would think that the cohort of our society that has suffered least are our youth. The truth cannot be further than this.

When one speaks to young people and asks them what their challenges are right now the first word practically all of them tell you is anxiety. Unfortunately during these times the level of anxiety within youth has hit the sky. Young people are uneasy, worried, afraid of the unknown and the level of anxiety has reached a very worrying level.

I am speaking about all young people in general. The ones who are studying, in any educational institution, be it post-secondary or tertiary are very worried about what is happening in these institutions. First of all the fact that they cannot meet, cannot socialise at school or on campus, cannot meet their friends in the evenings or whenever has rendered them alone, bored and find themselves looking at the wall. This at a time when we know that the basic of being young is meeting people and forging new relationships.

There is also anxiety with regards to their studies, without knowing clearly when and how their exams will take place, how they are going to finish their studies and what will become of them in the long run. The university campus, known to be full of students, teeming with energy and activities has gone silent, MCAST and Junior college to are totally empty and most of our young people are alone at home, yearning for a time when they can meet up again, be creative, meet their friends and organise the hundreds of activities that used to take please pre-COVID.

However it is not only students who are passing through this stress. Many young people today work, some on a full-time level and some part-time. These young workers are extremely worried about their future, about how safe their job is, about how possible it will be for them to buy a home and start a family. They too miss meeting their friends and their social life, which let’s face it is probably the most important part of their development at that age.

Society has a duty towards these people, and by society I don’t mean just government but each and every one of us at large. First of all we should treat our young people equally. All of us are passing through difficult times, some of us more than others, however it would be very unfair to to think that the people who are suffering least in these moments are our youngsters. This is totally false. Over the past year we have probably become a more caring society: we rightly understand the difficulties elder people are passing through, the difficulties company owners are passing through, workers, front-liners and so on, however we tend to sometimes forget that life for our youngsters is just as tough.

So first of all let’s change our way of thinking vis-a-vis young people, let’s understand how tough these times are for them to and let’s do all we can to make their lives as bearable as possible. I have heard countless stories of students being told that they have a mock exam from one evening to the next morning, I have heard countless stories of young people being told to thank their stars that they are young as this pandemic is not affecting them as much. This must change.

We must help our students plan where possible, and we must give them the courage that this pandemic is a temporary blip in their lives. My thinking is that this pandemic will create one of the best and resilient generations ever.

Considering that these young people are passing through such challenges in a phase of their lives in which they should be spending more time enjoying themselves and socialising will certainly make them stronger, and be able to face life probably even better than we were able to. However we have to say this loud and clear and make sure they understand it.

Our duty as a society however at this point in time remains one and the same: give them courage, show compassion and do all we can to make their lives as less difficult as possible.

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