F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: “Youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.” However, instead of this euphoric “madness,” is being young actually just maddening?
More than simply a desire to become a member of the ‘real world’, young people today are suffering with the turmoil of being allowed a chance to enter this world at all. The search to discover what one wants to pursue in life is now complicated by the difficulty of being able to reach such heights. Waiting in the queue that never ceases, the youth of today are struggling to reach the goal that our society has set them to achieve: success.
But what is this success? Financial security? Emotional wellbeing? Such questions have caused almost an entire generation of young people to fear what lies ahead; to fear how to begin to obtain such.
Despite the rise in students now attending university, young people face a scarcity of employment. A study by the Government in 2015 showed “the unemployment rate of 3.9% for young graduates is the lowest Q1 rate since 2007.” In a time where the pressure to obtain financial security is rife, such statistics are deflating to young people seeking to enter the job market.
From the moment our last GCSE is sat, we are pushed onto the next stage in the educational assembly line: A-levels. Come the end of these, university is the door we are told to open. This door, our professors declare, is the route to opportunity and excitement. Certainly, I do not try to disagree this is not true, because university is, indeed, an extremely enjoyable, eye-opening, and wonderful experience. However, the fear of what our next path is, our next door to open when we reach the end of our education assembly line, is at the forefront of many young people’s minds.
Yet, more than a fear of financial security, it is the emotional turmoil young people face today that is causing so much fear of the future. Too quick are we to condemn the actions of the young as though they are foolish, reckless, and immature. True, this might be for some, but the struggles many young adults face are not taken into consideration. Our emotions are sent into overdrive. With university brings new cities, new homes, new friendships, and relationships. It is easy to label this time in life as new, exciting, and one open to limitless possibilities - but this only heightens the pressure to live up to this expectation. After all, these should be our ‘glory days’, shouldn’t they? But what if we feel worried about what lies ahead, instead of embracing the now?
In a careers survey by British Gas in 2015, 69 per cent of young people questioned said they were worried they wouldn’t be able to find employment, while 63 per cent revealed they were anxious about ending up in a “dead-end” role. Worry is what is causing havoc for our youth today. Worry is what is numbing the excitement youth promises.
Being young is said to be one of the most carefree times in our lives, yet, I find it difficult to shake the burden of expectation that persistently looms. It is this that leaves our youth in a state of unrest - expectation. We now live in a world where success is measured by the income of our job, the house we acquire, or the merit of our CV. Expectation can be suffocating.
Perhaps we have become an anxious generation in an endless stream of consciousness - and it can be difficult to rid our minds of the fears thoughts of the future produce. Youth is, perhaps, no longer a “form of chemical madness” - but, rather, just maddening.
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