“We take the greatest decisions in life as mere seventeen years olds. We can take better decisions in life, if we are better informed.” – Pronita Tripathi.
The sweet-scented warm winds, with a taste of the sea, have started blowing in the evening hours. The sun lingers around for some more time and sunsets have become more breathtakingly beautiful. It’s already March, summer is on the doorstep. And while I have the eye to view these little changes which will metamorphose the city in no time, my board exams too start at the same moment and I, have no time for anything at all. It feels like a cage, I feel trapped. All the webs of expectations, sacrifices and insecurities make it difficult for me to breathe. But what can I do? I am a student, after all. But don’t we all stay students all our lives?
Once my Chemistry teacher told us, “Being a student is the easiest thing in this whole world. You just have to study. And studying is fun.” A class of 50 sixteen years olds, looked at him in astonishment. He laughed and said,” I know, children. This seems like it is the hardest thing to do for you, now. That is what every person thinks in each point of their lives. It is a part of our human nature.” He was absolutely right. Later in life, as grown-ups, we often seek solace in the “carefree” years of our youth.
Today’s youth is often regarded as a smart worker instead of a hard worker; a seeker of short cuts in life and an escapist. These young boys and girls want the most of everything from life by giving it their least possible efforts in return. Though this is a valid argument, it has a rational explanation. Today, the youth population is at the receiving end of a truck load of expectations and the flag bearer of a better world tomorrow. We have put our children under the weight of the entire sky, just like Atlas, the bearer of the sky.
In the 7th grade, I had a friend called Rimi. She was the ‘spoilt’ kid and ahead of her age in many ways. People used to call her various names behind her back, but she was a very strong and egoistic girl, so she just went to a lot more of late night parties and indulged in waxing and threading every weekend. I used to wonder, where all that partying is going to lead her later in life? But do you know, she was the first in our entire batch, to become financially independent. At the age of 16, she started doing tuitions and working part-time. It was an incredible but distressing hard work for a girl like her, so acquainted to the luxuries of life and so much dependant on her parents. But she stopped depending on her parents at the age of 16, and we used to think she was a spoilt child.
Similarly, when I completed my 10th grade, and went to a new school, I made new friends. One of them was a boy called Sameer. I and Sameer met at a much mature stage of life, so it was difficult to open up easily to each other. At that time, I realized that, with age, our capacity to build strong and everlasting friendship significantly reduces. But eventually, one day I came to know all about Sameer. He was 17 years old when we met, and he was an alcoholic and a chain smoker. He also smoked weed. It disturbed me so much that I kept bothering him for 3 months after he told me. I could not risk leaving him alone even for an hour because I knew, he would drive to the Stadium to smoke. It was so hard watching him battle. It nearly broke my heart. The most painful thing was, he had begun drinking, not out of need but out of a leisurely desire. It was peer pressure as well as an experienced pressure from his seniors. He was in the 7th standard when he first touched alcohol. One day, I found him crying on his terrace and he said, “ I can’t do this anymore. I give up!” And after that day, I let him go. He did whatever he wanted to, and after 5 months, he came to me and said,” Those three months were the hardest months of my life. And it is only yesterday that I realized that you are the only person who lent me a hand to come out of this darkness. And I can’t let you down. Also, I can’t promise quitting everything at once, but I do promise to join the gym and refrain from certain activities as much as possible.”
Children in today’s world, are forever living in confusion and depression. Scoring good marks is no longer the only issue in their lives. The first ranked student in our class writes sad love poems in Urdu in the last pages of her notebooks. Hardly 1 out of every 15 teenagers will answer in the affirmative if asked, “Are you happy with your life?” Where have we come to, after all the development and progress?
In this world of Internet and virtual pleasures, we have pushed our kids on the brink of an eternal/internal dispute. Who is responsible for this? Our parents? Yes. But more than that, the nature of our thought process and the reduction in empathetic understanding of the older generation. It’s not the work which is more, it is the lack of support and optimism. Why have we become so negative about life? This is because we all have increased our standards by ten notches at one go. We all want a huge salary, a big bungalow, ten servants and what not! Who wants to live in an one room apartment with a leaking roof and papery walls? We have equated happiness, contentment, and satisfaction with the size of our house, an extensive branded wardrobe and the digits of our bank balance. How can you survive in a permanent world with such transient means of pleasure?
Our entire personality depends on our younger years. That is the cream of our lives. That is where we learn to make choices and take responsibility for our actions. That is the time where we choose to become an entrepreneur, a lecturer, a painter or an author. This is the time when the bud of our passion blooms inside us and we are by nature, impulsive and instinctual.
The world around us is a cruel one, and only the present generation knows how to survive in it. There is absolutely no link between the requirements of today, with the requirements needed 50 years back(or even 10 years back). Generation gap is no longer a gap, it is a gulf.
What is very essential for the kids of the 21st century to understand is, they will have failures in life, they will have to deal with everything all at once and on their own, and it will definitely be very hard for them. But in spite of all this, they will have to hold on to their dreams, because their dreams are the only things which will never give up on them, when the rest of the world will.
So, to all the young lives and creative brains, live your lives to the fullest, make your choices wisely and don’t ever let anyone take your inner spark away from you. Peace lies within you, stop searching for it in the world outside!