Let’s face it. Youth is tough. Every day I ask myself “but why?” Why am I here? Why won’t things work out? Why is it me always getting the short end? Why, why!? And I have to keep finding creative, positive and empowering answers to all these questions. Everyday is just a constant struggle to be better. And not just externally, but internally. These are not easy mountains to climb and given whatever socio-economic state you're in and the planet clinging on to dear life… Yep, the roaring twenties alright.
Mountain 1: Yourself. Convincing yourself no matter how bad a start you have in life, you get up and keep trying. Stay positive. Be healthy. Eat healthy. Remember to love yourself and keep up with the latest trend and that pressure to have certain things figured out at a certain age, what a comforting illusion. I’ve noticed that me and my friends keep this cycle of dipping in and out of depression in a pattern that allows us to cry to the one not currently depressed or dealing with a new hard reality of life. To celebrate their joys as our own so we can say “look at us winning” here and there. Then go back to hoping and praying that there’s a reason behind all this, that we will get better, that happier days are ahead. This mountain requires an insurmountable daily will and a concentrated effort to choose better, be kinder, and grow ever wiser.
Mountain 2: ‘The competition’. It’s hard. Really hard. I remember the first time I encountered this mountain. It was the FIFA World Cup 2018. Kylian Mbappe became the youngest player to score in a World Cup final since Pele when he put France 4-1 ahead against Croatia. He was 17 when he did this. At the time I was turning 18. And yes, I’d played a few soccer games and dabbled in other sports but had never cared much. So why did it make me feel some sort of shame? To not be a young person representing something big like that in the world? Suddenly I felt as though I’d never done anything useful or worthy of my existence. And through it all, I forgot to celebrate Kylian. This trend of seeing the accomplishments of others and feeling shame for my own life like I’ve been doing nothing or not enough with my own life would persist for a long time.It plays a huge role in my depressive episodes and eventually led me to be blind to the joy of others and even my own successes. The cure for this or rather the treatment to the root cause is gratitude. Realizing that I’m just a tiny spec on a moving rock, some magical being that may or may not exist decided to give consciousness and that I’m simply alive because the muscles in my body contract and expand at just the right time to carry breath and blood. And whatever the accomplishments of others, if I choose to be grateful, I can celebrate both of us. Look at what that one tiny spec can do! While recognizing that my path will also be beautiful. A friend of mine said recently, “You know Cynthia, it’s okay to dream small too. Those dreams still matter” and I’d never felt so comforted and seen. There was no competition. Just a commitment to being the joy I wanted to receive.
Mountain 3, Family relationships. Well, well well. Look at you, fledgling that left the nest and is becoming its own thing that the world and those you love might not agree with! In a culture based on unity and oneness the concept of individuality and choosing a different path from traditional norms is bound to raise a few eyebrows… And voices. And it’s a little too easy in modern society to “cut them off” and label them as “toxic” but when was the last time you called your family and asked them how they were doing? Told them you loved them or tell them even the “safe bits” of your life? And yes some dynamics are abusive and toxic. Others just maybe want you to also be accountable for your behavior and tell them you love them, invite them to know the new person you are. If you want them to give you a chance, you have to be willing to give them one too.
Mountain 4 “Money vs Rest vs Dreams” : The economy is down bad. It’s no surprise with the rising inflation and the cost of living that most of us have had to make sacrifices. Hard ones. Navigating the choice of taking care of your mental health or your next bill… Very frightening. And more often than not, we have to choose the bill payer. Just don’t give so much that you forget your dreams. Look outside from time to time. Remember why it is you’re willing to go through so much. Because you carry a fire that has to do more than pay your way through.
The tough part, you might have to climb up and down certain mountains a few times before you figure it out. And even then its terrain might change. You’ll be fighting your ego and try to keep your values and conscience, all while your relationships are heading downhill fast. The best thing that I can tell you is, I’ll be hoping it’s just the phase of youth for both of us. That there’s a magical moment far off with newer mountains and we’ll have wiser steps. Until then, remember your life is a miracle. Give thanks for it. Be the love you wish to see and don’t forget your dreams. Big or small.
About the author: I am a person of the world with a window that allows me many lives. Music and good food are why I'm still here. Apples are my arch enemy.