The gripe of the modern-day youth is finding a way to have it all.

Since the year 2000, the UN has recognized International Youth Day on August 12th. The purpose of this day is to bring awareness to the issues and struggles today’s youth face and celebrate contributions of young people who are pushing for positive change around the world. According to a 2019 report from the UN, there are currently 3 billion youth under the age of 30 around the world. That is nearly half the world’s population – and they will be the drivers of development and betterment at a local and global stage.

The gripe of the modern-day youth is finding a way to have it all. Most youth spend a lot of their lives trying to find a way to achieve balance between their aspirations and practicality.  Moving ahead with school and career development while maintaining a sense of individuality are some of the most common considerations.  Young people straddling two cultures, as is the case with many first-generation immigrants and their children in Canada, must find a balance between preserving their old way of life and embracing the new.

Many of these young people caught between two worlds start formulating the mental checklists to ensure they are meeting expectations set by members of their cultural community.  Problems arise when it comes time to prioritize items of the checklist. Values within culture evolve with generations, and in a world as hyper-connected as the one today we have exposure to different cultural and generational values increases. Thus, the pressure to perfect the checklist intensifies. 

The problem with this approach is that in the relentless pursuit of everything on the checklist, many fail to give thought to their personal desires. This inattentiveness may lead to many youths questioning, “Who am I?” or “What am I doing with my life?”. This realization can be uncomfortable. However, it is important to realize that reassessing priorities is an important part of defining goals. It is essential that youth take the time to assess and define their goals from an individual perspective. It is easy to get lost in the myriad of timelines and to-do lists, however paying attention to personal desires and interests strengthens the sense of self.

Furthermore, strive for motion, embrace new challenges, and do not get comfortable with a stagnant life. Ensure that you see the significance and value of your actions and thoughts. Make time for yourself and make goals for yourself.  While it is certainly important to give time and energy to the various roles in your life (be it as a student, professional, child or friend), it is essential to maintain an individual identity outside of them as well. It can feel difficult and even futile at the start, especially with so many other things going on. But embracing self-exploration and growth is a key part of staying fulfilled and happy. Ultimately, a happy and healthy youth generation will be able to realize their full potential and contribute towards the betterment of our society.

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