After I have spoken about my dreams, I feel the need to connect them to a different, but somehow related topic, namely the pressure I and people my age experience (generation y and/or z, depending on which time interval we choose, since experts seem not be able to agree on a certain year as a cut-off value). I was not quite sure whether I should write about this topic at all, but I feel like I have to, in order to find out, whether other people observe a similar situation. A small disclaimer: The following will be my personal opinion and I certainly do not want to offend anyone, but I feel like some aspects need to be addressed. Some people (mainly from older generations) will be in doubt how my generation even can experience pressure or might even say that we tend to exaggerate and don’t know what real problems are, but as every generation, young people today also have problems and we won’t make them better by ignoring them.
Pressure. Immense pressure on future success. Not only regarding our career, but also every aspect about our life, especially the dreams we have or the goals we set for ourselves. In today’s world everything seems possible, and we can (in general, or at least in most developed countries) follow our passion without having to fear to be judged, because we don’t do everything like everyone else. Of course, that still exists in many countries, but generally speaking, a lot has changed during the last 50 or 100 years. We have a much bigger freedom to choose what we want to do and how, but I also feel like there is a lot of societal pressure connected to this. Since we are free to choose our career, actions and dreams from anything that is possible, everyone expects us to be happy and super-satisfied, because we had the choice, after all.
One could assume that my generation would be the happiest in history, since we have so much freedom, however, numbers suggest otherwise. Although all studies should be read with a certain amount of caution and one should pay attention to potential weaknesses and flaws, there seems to be a trend. Even if we do not compare the numbers over the years and instead look at the newest one’s separately: The national institute of mental health reports that 30% of adolescents have some kind of anxiety disorder. I really don’t know, but for me that surely does not sound like a desirable number. Of course, these numbers and trends could be induced by anything and we cannot be sure exactly by what it is caused but asking the affected people certainly might help. Many of them say it is due to the pressure they experience on a daily basis. So, what does this mean?
Having a lot of freedom creates a problem: When we are unhappy, depressed, unmotivated or not successful it is our own fault, since we could have just chosen something different. It is not like anyone would ever say this to you, but you can feel it. It is in the way people look at you and ask what is wrong. I read a small article about this topic at school once and when I read it, it hit me. We are supposed to be happy and have everything and when we don’t, there is something wrong with us. Sadly, I can see the logic behind this, freedom has always been one of the mayor factors for humans to be happier, but guess what, it is not the only one. If the choice and pressure get too big, you start to panic and stress out about it, which is certainly not a good state to be in when deciding on something (such as a career or a hobby).
Talking about career: Since we have such a diverse choice, future employers expect that we have basically done everything at once. The obligatory stay abroad, doing community work, having had at least three internships and two or three degrees. Oh, and before I forget, it would also be useful to speak three languages. Not even talking about parents or other relatives, who all have their expectations, most of them being you to be successful, regardless of what path you choose. No one wants their kid to be worse off or even equally successful. We are determined to have better results than our parents, since they do so much for us and make so many sacrifices. Even when you are lucky enough to have supportive parents, who just want you to be happy, you can be certain that instead society will put the pressure on you.
I, myself, do a lot of stuff at the same time, because I like to engage in activities like organizing seminars and because I love to learn new things (such as French), but I am pretty sure that there are dozens of people out there who do things like this, just so their resume looks better or because they are expected to do so. I feel incredibly sorry for those people, because whatever it is you are pressured to do: You might actually enjoy it, if there weren’t these expectations. Most of the time they won’t even be uttered, but you know they are there.
Nevertheless, when I am talking about pressure on young people, I am also not only referring to individual pressure on making the “right” choices, but also the generational pressure. I mean: Since the older generations managed to f* up our planet, we are the ones who have to fix it (to all the people who try to make this world a better place, regardless of your age: Thank you so much, you are excluded from this attack). I am especially referring to climate change and it makes me so incredibly angry that in every paper it is written that my generation has to fix it and save the planet. Like NO! It is everyone’s responsibility. And if you ask me, especially those of the people who screwed up in the first place. Yes, we might have to live with this shit and yes, we will try as best as we can to save nature, but we can’t manage that all on our own, we need support from everyone. And by support I don’t mean to simply ignore or deny climate change or any other occurring problem. Getting support seems to be another big problem for my generation as well, since we also (as well as every other generation before us) are not taken seriously enough from many older people to actually be listened to.
I don’t know if anyone else out there feels the same as I do, but I sometimes cannot deal with pressure like this. I know that I, myself, put a lot of pressure on me and that it is partly my own fault that I am stressed so much (since my parents are loving and supporting), but if an entire generation starts to feel like this, I would consider it a serious problem. Sometimes it just gets so much that I actually get paralyzed and stop doing anything at all. You would expect me to fail because of that and get nothing done and just give up, but somehow, I still can keep my head above the water and actually get good results for what I do. However, I know that there are people out there who can’t keep their head above the water and feel like drowning. Everyday teenagers and young adults harm themselves or suffer from nervous breakdowns and panic attacks. I just wish that we will be listened to and that it gets better at some point in the future, but until then, we need to support each other as best as we can!
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