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Coming of Age in the New Political Age

It’s 2022. We’ve been through a pandemic, there’s an economic crisis, constant political debate and impending doom from the climate emergency. Oh, and don’t forget all of the problems outside of the UK.

But, hang on, for those of us just entering adulthood, let’s also look at this again.

It’s 2022. We’ve been through a pandemic; we’ve been less able to express ourselves and go and discover who we are. So there’s the identity crisis, the what do I want to be when I leave university crisis and the general pressures of having everything figured out.

Everything is so up in the air and ever-changing that it sometimes feels hard to stay grounded and anchor ourselves in one place- with one idea and one viewpoint. I’m not sure I could even tell you who I am right now let alone what I think of all the world’s problems. Surrounded by influential activism, protests and riots, it’s hard to not get swept up into anxiety, grief or even hope as you try and comprehend a valid ending to these narratives. But it’s perfectly normal to feel a little lost while you understand and gather the points.

Every day we are surrounded on social media with feeds flooded with political satire, petitions and more and so ‘you may see it as your duty to stay diligently informed’. But even the best of activists needs a day off. Not a day off from your beliefs, but a day to re-coup, re-calibrate and not lose yourself along the way. I’m writing this to reach a hand out to those coming of age in this new political age. There’s a lot to comprehend, but I promise it will be worth it.

You're scared? Pull up a chair

Social justice is an important conversation. I can’t explain how badly I want equality and fairness for everyone or how much I’d like peace across the world and the forest fires to end… but I cannot deny that there is a constant weight on our shoulders as the upcoming generation to fix everything.

Trust me, I’m with you. As a 20-year-old, almost 21. Almost the age where I really am considered an adult and am expected to have it all together. It’s a big ask. I’m just leaving the most unstable years of my life as I’m forming my own identity and discovering who I am as I stand on my own feet for the first time… and who’s saying this journey of self-discovery is only limited to the teen years? My point is that everything about myself is expected to take ‘a backseat, as my community asks me to display a clearly defined set of beliefs’.

The only thing that I know for sure, is that I don’t have to know anything for sure just yet. It may seem like your friends are all solid on their political placement and standpoints, but it’s okay to feel like you’re hanging in the balance and still figuring life itself out. It’s daunting knowing if things don’t change during our lifetimes there will be irreversible effects… it’s also daunting to walk into an interview and swallow the lump in your throat feeling like a fraud acting like you’re qualified for an 'adult’s' job, when hey, you are an adult now too. I’m not saying they’re the same. I’m just saying to give yourself a pat on the back for even trying to handle them both at once.

It’s a beautiful thing, to learn and to create your own opinions. But I also must remember that I am 20. I cannot demand life experience through the guise of YouTube videos and tweets. - Just Girl Project.

Now, let’s get into some ways we can help understand this new political age and maybe even start to enjoy it.

So, what can I do?

Well, I know that I’m discovering my beliefs as I go, and whenever I do realise something, I will fight for it. I know that I’ll loudly celebrate Pride and I’ll promote finding greener ways of life and start small with things I can do and understand. Then, I’ll deal with political debates when it comes to it. I might not understand it all now, or even what ‘parties’ mean aside from birthdays, but I will soon. As long as you don’t give up trying, you’re already doing great.

This new age of politics that society is entering is still good too. In fact, activism is no longer one dimensional, and provides opportunities for everyone, even those like us just starting to find our voices to fit into the puzzle. We can sign online petitions for things we agree with or like and share infographics on social media. It may seem small, and though the internet is a big world, it’s never been so easy to spread something globally.

Don't always trust the internet

But before we move on, let me just repeat that last sentence… it’s never been so easy to spread something globally. Aha! This is definitely a handy tool for official organisations or people who mean well, but remember, it also means that not all information is accurate or constructive. That’s the problem for us just finding our feet in this society, opinions can be spread just as easily. But soon enough, we will work it out, together.

Do trust those around you

We aren’t alone, there’s a whole community of our age group learning and growing, and it’s important we stand together- sharing information and holding discussions that are difficult and opening up thought-provoking conversations. We may disagree, we may change perspective, and we may join hands and stand together in rallies… but we won’t fully know for sure until we try. So don’t hold back; next time you meet your friends and family, find ways to learn from each other and really delve into the topics by asking questions about the realities of society.

In conclusion, yes, it’s hard growing up. And to add to that, we now have to enter an active political and socially engaged outlook too… but then again, is that really that bad? We may feel afraid now and lost and confused, but one day we will have the ability to voice our beliefs and really promote the changes we want to see.

Maybe coming of age won’t really be as bad as we thought.

I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good. - Dr. Maya Angelou


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