‘Here I am, trying to find my feet and totally forgot those following in my footsteps.’
Struggling is an egocentric occupation. We are immersed in our own, each grappling with issues at this age that may have been the broken winged dove and though futile at times, let’s just say we have the experience to make a difference from here on, forward. And we do…
The past few days, oh Lord, help me but I have had this Wilson Phillips song beating a path through my brain – you know the one ‘Hold on’, the catchy, ‘Bridesmaids’ theme – hold on, boom, boom and things’ll go your way. And of course, let’s be honest, the line really pounding away is … You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess … ‘ mmm … really … what gives … mmm. And we keep going upsticks with some truth and hopefully some solutions.
But, and but is all important here … it is not always about us. Never before has the younger generation been so stressed, so unable to deal with sadness and global scrutiny as before. I live in a city with so many young, talented and gifted young people … unable to cope with life. With the challenges of proving themselves, making their mark, earning well and being happy … and failing on all counts for the stakes now, are so much higher than I remember.
“This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market and at risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential in their wake’ Telegraph April 2018.
The pressure is immense. Flashback here to moi, fifties born boomer and that final matric day. Mother says … ‘darling would you like to go to University? Get something useful behind you before you marry and have a family of your own?’ Oh yes, for sure. Of course, what to do with the time in between, a nice job, money for rent, petrol and drinks with friends. Seems good, think I will study Drama, or Humanities, or Law and then all will be sorted.
Did I do the same with my children? No. It was, study child, be the best you can be, create your own business, be successful, get that pension in place and when you are a millionaire, maybe then you can buy the restaurant/guest house/ villa in France and so on. It was the way it was and not apologising for it, but in the stopping and thinking, I believe our children, the Millennials did exactly that – they worked hard, hectic school hours, studying, extra curriculums and for some university … and now our super achievers are in crises. The world is levelling and the dream is crumbling. The need to achieve and be … be perfect at everything is a burden cloak suffocating rather than letting them fly.
Let’s face it – no-one expected us to be perfect by thirty. A millionaire with a trust fund and five figure salary, with future children in the rights schools, a mortgage paid off at fifty and a seventeen hour work day. How did this happen? Did we take our own failure and insecurities at this age to project it all on our children? Did we find ourselves incomplete and expect them to be so before they turned forty? Do we want our incomplete dreams to be their complete ones? We lived in small enclosures of life, they live with global comparisons – and happiness comes second to success it seems, and in that we look behind to find sad young people, who strive, and fail and feel that in the failing, they are half of what they should be.
They were watching us. They still are. They thought us perfect and when the dream shattered and mothers, fathers and others stumbled in the path, they were there. Mine, well, they were the catchers of mom, the consolers of hurt and carers, for which I will be forever grateful and so this is what I am saying …
Maybe it was good that we, at this age, get lost. The picture perfect person has cracks too. Maybe it is good that they know that we are human. For maybe, in the human mess that is us at times, we also teach them that it’s ok to just be … well human. That it is not all about achieving but living .. with good times and bad times and in the end, good times again. That by falling, and standing up again, we are showing them that it is fine to be fallible, weak and lost at times. Not all perfect all the time. Maybe life is not about the success, but the road to saying, even we, with all our experience and knowledge, still have a lot to learn.
I don’t want to live in a world where young people are stressed and afraid.
Where the job is everything and success is a stamp that means nothing.
Thinking now… maybe the best lesson I can teach my children, and those young, beautiful young and stressed people, is that life gives us highs, and abject lows, and then the highs come again, not with success, with money or status, but with love as the thread that goes through it all. Love your job, love your place, if you want more, let it be because you love it, go further because you love it and when you finally, pause, remember that all the little things you do, the people, the hobbies, the home, the garden and the small moments are those you can love. Fail, yes, falter, yes, we did too … and if we can inspire you, let it be because we were human, young and still young at heart. We need to inspire our followers at our feet that the ground will be sandy, rocky, steep at times … but always worth it.
If I can inspire these stressed, striving and beautiful young people through my example, it is to not be ashamed of my story, but proud that in my small way, love got me up from the floor, out of the shadows, stepping behind the wings and when it all comes to the light … I loved growing, more than being the best, but being the best one can be. Holding on is great when you realise it.
We have a job to do. Knowing we are being watched, let’s inspire the younger ones to know that life may bring baskets of lemons, but lemons are the most beautiful fruit in the orchard.