Thoughts of a 20-Something on 2020
It’s become a bit of a running joke on social media that already two months in to 2020, the world has fallen into utter chaos. Within the first two weeks of the new year, the internet was flooded with memes about World War III, Australian fires, presidential impeachment, and Brexit.
At the time of writing this post, we are experiencing student walk outs in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation in response to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and the Coronavirus is a daily headline.
I’m writing this blog post not to complain about how overwhelming the world is, because it’s always been this way. That’s nothing new. However, what is new is our growing awareness of the world around us as we get older.
Growing up, it felt like world events were always humming in the background of our childhood unless we were directly affected by them. There was some vague recognition that something big happened in the news, maybe a headline you saw on The National while watching CBC with your parents, or something you briefly heard while listening to the radio on your way to school.
Now that we have more resources, more knowledge, more awareness, shouldn’t we be doing something with it? I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’m failing at life by not using my privileges and opportunities to better the world around me.
Yes, there is the argument that simply by caring and keeping yourself informed, you are doing something. But what if it’s not enough? Surely every person must reach a point in their lives when you know you don’t only want to make a difference in the world, but that you need to.
As young adults, the world seems to be acting upon us and all we can do is passively let things happen. We don’t have the credentials to make a difference yet. We’re not professionals, our experiences are limited. We’re plagued by the word young and all the negative connotations of ignorance and naiveté that surround our youthful status. We’re told that our voices have power, but we struggle to be heard.
Decisions are being made for us by people who will not have to deal with the long term consequences. Watching the news is like watching a Jenga tower fall apart. Little by little, past generations made it more and more unstable and we’re all just waiting with bated breath for the last brick to be pulled that makes everything come crashing down. We can see the pieces we’ll later be trying to put back together scattered around the room.
And I’m frustrated. Angry even. Because even though we’re always reminded that our whole future is before us and the world is at our feet, it’s difficult not to wake up sometimes and just feel hopeless and anxious about the future. It’s watching the same events unfold over and over again. The same issues we learn about in our history classes are before us once more.
My intention is not to point fingers that it’s one specific group of people’s fault, or to claim that my generation is just a group of pure, innocent, perfect bystanders that will fix everything. Because in the end, we are all just humans who are all capable of making the same mistakes. I think sometimes it’s just a bit overwhelming when we’re constantly told that our twenties are the best years of our lives, but we are also facing the pressures of growing up and the desire to make a better world for ourselves and future generations.
Honestly, I don’t have a solution on how to avoid this anxiety. Maybe this anxiety shouldn’t altogether be avoided. Because the moment we stop feeling it, we become complacent.
Even when we are feeling hopeless, nervous, and mad, we need to remember that we must not give up. Though our voices often feel small, we must use them. We have to keep learning from the past and from each other.
The future we’re entering and creating will by no means be perfect. But perhaps we’d be less likely to make the same mistakes again and again if we listened to each other and sought to find understanding rather than focusing on maintaining divides. Or maybe this is all the idealistic ramblings of a post-adolescent and I’m just further feeding the stereotype of the overly-optimistic youth.
Regardless of what you might think of this post, I hope that each person who reads this remembers how important it is that we keep ourselves informed and that we keep trying to make a difference. We need to match realism with optimism if we’re going to make positive changes. We need to take more action to ensure that we have a say in our futures. Share insightful articles from reliable sources about issues you care about, join walk outs and rallies. Do even more if you can. No one’s voice is unimportant. We have to at least keep trying to do better.