What comes to your mind when you think about youth-hood? – Freedom, friends, life, excitement, romance, speed and adrenalin? Not true. For many it is a period of agony, strife, struggle, fear, bewilderment, guilt, loneliness, rebellion and uncertainty. Many a youth will tell you how agitated they are about their existence and many an adult will endorse that from their own life’s story.
Ideally, the period of youth-hood, age group of 18-25, must be the golden age in the life of any individual for obvious reasons – it is the flowering period, we begin to understand the meaning of things around, develop attraction towards the opposite sex, there is freedom to think and act without elders‘guidance and supervision, we develop the ability to take care of ourselves etc. One really starts to make sense of this beautiful life though a developed senses through the colours and sounds of nature. One starts to ones skills and tastes and dream to make something beautiful out of this life. One really gears oneself up to surf in the ocean called life.
But, instead one is pulled into the chaos of agony, strife, struggle, fear, bewilderment, guilt, loneliness, rebellion and uncertainty. Life becomes a war and youth-hood a battle, a battle that most youth lose. The eventuality of this loss leads the youth to an uncertain adulthood unprepared to face life. How does this disaster occur? What changed things around from good to ugly?
If we study the happiness or achievement index of today’s adults or adults of yester years we will come across a mass of unhappy under-achievers. And the main reason is the baggage of the youth-hood. As youth most weren’t nurtured to become happy and achieving adults. So, as individuals we end-up achieving so little, the whole life becomes one mega struggle. What are the factors leading to youth entering to a hopeless future?
There are many and let’s examine a few;
- Struggle in the transition from studies to career.
In most cases there is no plan prepared or counselling given to a youth about this phase called ‘youth-hood’. Most parents are not equipped or trained to handle their youngsters positively and guide them out of their predicaments during their dark hours. If an institution offers help it is limited to serve the hidden control-freak agenda of the establishment and almost revolve around ‘disciplining’ the youth. As a result a youth is left with herself/himself to wade through the muddy terrains of life resulting in confused studies and unstable career options.
- Pulled from different directions (friends, family, relatives, society)
Everybody wants command over a youth. So everyone has their own opinion about how the youth should look, behave, speak, option for education, career etc When family might want the youth to concentrate on studies and become an engineer or doctor schools and teachers might realise that sports or outdoor activities is the best option that suits her/his personality the best, friends might suggest wild photography and a career travelling the world, relatives will come up with more stable options like govt services and neighbours and society might want to send the youth to army or navy to keep them away permanently.
- Self-discovery never happens leading to short term goals
Pulled from different directions and bombarded with information they develop a confused state of mind and keep trying various options at different intervals. The youth never get a chance to do Self-discovery – a chance to dig into her/his hidden skills, strengths, weaknesses and realise what he/she is made of or made for. The most important outcome of self-discovery is developing trust and confidence is oneself which is very essential for an individual to evolve to become a self-reliant person with a long-term goal and a vision about the destination of her/his life.
Since self-discovery doesn’t happen in natural settings focus of life changes to survival and a rat-race of competition and stress begins short-term goals are set and modified as when needed. Youth lose the vision and guidance of a permanent long-term goal that we call as a dream.
- Lack of resources
Government and establishment are busy building roads, bridges, buildings, arms and control systems. Nobody seems to be genuinely interested in building infra and systems to nurture and guide youth to become strong, capable and motivated citizen. We boast that youth is the backbone of a nation but we do very less to make sure just that, our youth is not often provided with essential resources they need during their developmental years. As a result when some youth struggle for education, some struggle for basic facilities and some for guidance. We have done very less in making sure that we have robust systems in place to bring a tired, de-motivated disgruntled youth back into the manifold of society.
Youth can at times get carried away by the new found freedom and the paraphernalia that comes with it. It tends to do a bit too much and sometimes get entangled in situations that are complex and difficult to come out of. Unfortunately for them, most of these distractions come from aspects that have to become their strength –freedom, friends, technology, love, hormones, and gadgets. Youth domesticated under strict rules and vigilance eagerly wait for their freedom and when they reach that Promised Land finally at the age of 17-18 it is natural for them to engage in it in excess. A society that lives under constant fear and insecurity thus contributes largely to it.
- Lack of life- skills
It is surprising to think that we in our schools and colleges most of the time we teach subjects and stuff that are less relevant to our lives while neglecting very essentials items like life-skills. Ability to communicate well, developing & maintaining relationships, self-respect, confidence, resilience, well rounded physical health etc are essential knowledge anyone must have to ably live a life. But alas these are not taught. One sometimes wonders whose agenda our education system is serving. Youth must be well acquainted of these skills and must be trained on these life saving skills time and again.
- Lack of a mentor
Youth at this tender age require a mentor who will hold them tight and walk them through this mayhem without faltering being a friend and philosopher. During childhood parents play this role and during school years teachers play this role. But once out of school this space become empty and sometimes goes into the hands of vested interests like a devising friend or a drug supplier or cunning businessman or a political leader etc. All of them will have their own agenda and will make the youth a part of it making the idiom ‘if you don’t have your own dream you become a part of the dream of someone else’ true.
And finally, society, by and large, has a wrong and suspicious way of looking at the youth. Society looks at the youth as trouble makers. It can’t digest the energy of youth it is jealous about their freedom. It can’t tolerate the fun, frolic and noise spreads out when young friends meet. It can’t stand their sense of fashion, punk and take it easy attitude. It paints them as unruly and rude. It almost always doubts their intentions and capabilities. It wants them to be good and obedient and grow to become good servants of corporations and government. This negative mentality needs to change and all of us can play a part in it.