When we are young we are blinded to believe in what the elders around us do. As we learn to identify with those similar to us, we tend to again see things in their light. Even as playful school kids, we hate the late comer and the school bully for we can by then see what is ‘good’ and ‘correct’ in terms of those who guide us. This phase passes too, and we turn into adolescents, struggling to carve our own identities.
However, it is this stage when we try to fit into a world run by adults, but are still treated as children. It is also the time when we are filled with dynamism and fervour, but kept back by cultural restraints, conventional etiquettes, and ceiling high expectations. It is the time for one to be passionate about something and try their hardest to achieve it. Sadly, this is the time when a struggling identity seeker gasps for freedom. Freedom not just to do or say what they want, but freedom to think the way their same age people do.
While we grow into fresh youngsters, we see how what we think conflicts with what we have always been taught. Nonetheless, we recognize how similar it is with those who are growing with us. We then turn into the same bully or the late comer we despised years ago, and the irony is it does not matter anymore. Not even a bit!
This means as we grow, so do our thoughts. They change over time and we no longer think the same as we did years back, be it on wearing skimpy clothes or that neighbourhood guy with an eyebrow piercing. This is where it contrasts with what elders around us think. Elders look in us the mannerisms they spent years imparting into us. When interacting with us, they always tend to forget the difference of years. This is why our conversations end with banging doors and hurling things across the room.
When the younger generation people opine, they are asked to lay back and repeat all that which has been carried on for ages. They are held back by the murkiness of what their elders have been taught. Just because your daughter adores Lady Gaga does not mean she will turn out to be like her. Likewise with your son who fancies wrestling. In this age, where everything can be seen as rungs of opportunity, youngsters are asked to do what is conventional and prosaic, affected by our commonplace perspectives.
While I talk about youngsters and their freedom, I definitely do not suggest breaking of family norms. It is very well understood that each family has their own principles which guide the actions of the members. But what I try to suggest is that the norms could be flexible over generations. And, communication is very important, as much as it is to know where to draw the line of flexibility. This would not only let the young explore panoramas of their pick, but give them a sense of satisfaction if they find what they want with their own experience. This, as I would put it, is very much better than imposing commands, and thrusting them into directions which do not match their destinations.
While the youth crave for appreciation and recognition, more than that, they do for being understood. Like the cliché goes, this is a very vulnerable age. Like the hackney does, the indomitable responsible adults try to control most of it. The young then have no freedom at all. A child grows not into an adolescent, but into an individual who entirely does not belong to his generation. Believe me when I say this, it is an utter mismatch of emotions, leading to total misplacement of self.
So, do we say that the energy the youth possess should be directed into creating a happy world tomorrow or should it be submerged under what has always been happening? Do we want history to repeat or to take a new course? In this so-called competitive world, do we want parents to exert constant pressure on children, compromising their entire youth? Or, do we let the children learn from mistakes they themselves make? At this stage, we cannot be specific as to what should be done. But we categorically need to question ourselves if the youth is really fading.
(Aditi is an A Level Student)