3 THINGS YOU SHOULD START APPRECIATING RIGHT NOW
It seems that nowadays, young people are enduring a really hard and difficult life. We're talking major insecurities, worries, loads of different kinds of mental health issues, a pandemic ruining lives and what not. Turns out, this isn't just a feeling; numerous surveys and studies suggest that the level of unhappiness among young people has never been higher. It appears to me that the "problem" is that most of us were born with a silver spoon up our arses when it comes to comfort. People have never been as well as right now, so we simply don't know anymore what the word crisis actually means. To be fair though: how are we supposed to? It's not our fault we were born in this era and not in 1925, and we shouldn't feel guilty about not having lived through an age of war and trauma.
Though people have more money, better health care, better health, better housing and more education, and live longer than at any time in history, they — especially young people — are unhappier than at any time since data collection began. (National Review, 2020)
In relation, however - and this is where things become a little problematic - there isn't really that much to complain about. Yes, some people will always struggle but a whole generation? Come on. It seems that the easier and more comfortable life becomes, the more people find something to nag about. Because of the lack of "real" problems, we have had plenty of time on our hands to create artificial, unnecessary problems for ourselves by worrying about minor inconveniences that eventually turn into actual issues: social media conveying toxic body images, all those options available today creating existential fears and anxieties, obsessing over our appearance resulting in self-hatred, and so on. Apparently, people even become lonelier because they're on their phones 24/7 (National Review). Newsflash: you can actually decide whether you'll abuse that thing up to a point where you straight up harm yourself - it's all in your power. I don't want to downplay serious mental health issues here, but it looks like most problems our generation have could be easily resolved and are mainly in our heads, and I think we create a lot of these problems ourselves by being too self-absorbed and by remaining too comfortable in our ways.
We should therefore stop for a second and make ourselves aware of the downright luxury we're experiencing right now instead of constantly thinking problems into existence. None of the things I will talk about in the following are linked to any kind of personal achievement and are just there, waiting to be recognised and appreciated.
1. Freedom to design our lives
Right now, a lot of us are at the pinnacle of freedom.
I live on my own, and I am well over 18, meaning I have enough responsibility to actually do what I want and lead an organised life at the same time – not to just throw pints down my throat at the local pub each weekend, thinking I'm fully grown, while my parents still make appointments with the dentist for me.
I can organise my time and finances the way I want. I can live off cup noodles for three months and organise spontaneous city trips to other countries. I can meet up with a hundred strangers from the internet if I want to or lock myself up in my house for a week and not talk to anyone. I can get drunk during the week and still go to work the next day without having anyone rebuke me. I can stuff my face with as much chocolate cake and sweets as I can eat (suck it, children!). I can have a cigarette out the window, or in the bathtub, with a glass of red wine sat next to me. I think you get the idea.
The reason I can do that is the fact that the only person am responsible for right now is me. I have to take care of exactly one person, and that is myself. I don’t have a family or children and my parents don't need support (yet). This is going to change at some point probably, but right now, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. How great is that? I think loads of people are in the same situation but fail to realise how great this kind of freedom actually is, which is why I urge you to start realising as soon as possible.
2. Plenty of opportunities
Nothing is set in stone yet. At this moment in time, everything is possible. The world is our oyster.
I haven’t had a full career yet that pretty much determines what job I will be working in for the rest of my life. Of course, you can always change the course of your career, but that takes effort and let’s be honest, we all like comfort. Now is the time to try different things and fail a thousand times because we still have the energy to endure it. Besides, no one expects us to excel at anything yet because our twenties are the 30-day test subscription of life.
I love that life is still ahead of me and all those opportunities laid out in front of me. Don't complain about not being able to decide because there's too many options but rather appreciate the fact that there are so many open doors to go through!
We can literally travel the world because there's countless programmes providing financial help especially to young people. The Work-and-Travel Visa, for example, is only accessible to people under the age of 30. The roles of men and women have changed, meaning guys can be stay-at-home dads and girls can become business sharks. Yes, there might still be a pay gap, but if that's going to hold you back, it's your own fault. Life isn't fair and it doesn't get any fairer if you sit at home and cry about it.
3. Your Youth
I recently came across a quote that said, “Youth is wasted on the young” and it was a wake up call. Obviously, middle-aged people always tell us we're so lucky to be young and what not, but none of us have seen our faces looking old yet, so we probably just subconsciously assume that what our mirror shows us today is just what we look like and in turn fail to appreciate it. But the youthful image is going to fade gradually, and if nothing is guaranteed in life, becoming older definitely is. So I'd suggest to stop wasting time worrying about not looking like a god-damn snapchat filter and to start appreciating your youthful face instead - it really doesn't get any better than that, and if you waste your good years wishing you looked different, you are going to curse your past-self when you're stood in the bathroom, crying at your reflection while plucking out grey hairs.
It’s not just about full hair and firm skin though, I’m talking the whole attitude that comes with it. Thankfully, my stepfather has always made sure us children knew how lucky we actually were being blessed with youth, and his resentment towards the fact that humans never stop ageing has made me realise what a treasure youth actually is. He would always say to us “you young people think you’re immortal”, which is probably very true. I don’t really worry about death, or the future, major regrets or having failed at life. This happy-go-lucky-attitude I hold so dearly, and I try to enjoy it to the fullest while I can afford it.
“Hold on to 16 as long as you can, change is coming ‘round real soon, make us women and men.” (John Mellencamp)
Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that some people find it surprisingly easy to feel left out, treated unfairly and betrayed by god, when in reality everything is just fine. Instead of obsessing about the minor problems that we're facing from time to time, we should start appreciating all the good things we call our own just because we're young. These things were given to us for FREE. Imagine that. The real challenges are probably still ahead of us, so we should save our complaints and mental breakdowns for when they’re actually appropriate and enjoy the lighter half of our lives while we can because it's more than likely not going to stay this easy.
Crying about your back being in pain at 20? Pro tip: Imagine what it’s going to be like in 40 years’ time and your pain suddenly appears half as bad.