I am not so young anymore, well that’s at least what I think, but tomorrow I am hoping to experience a great festival that not only celebrates what its like to be young, but also celebrates well-being for young people. The festival is called the “Happy Heads” festival which takes place over at the Maudsley Learning centre.
Now even at my age, I admit I sometimes struggle to understand the concept of well-being and how it can benefit our lives in an ever chaotic world. So can you imaging the challenges for young people today?
Never has being young in the UK presented so many difficult challenges for young people. although I hope not to write a blog that starts off so grim, but I do want you to be aware of what young people have to go through these days.
Asked to do more for less
When I was in school or college, things were fairly simple. I would just try get the grades, get the job and get on trying to make a living. I admit things were not always so easy, but fast forward to the present.
I look around and wonder what its like for young people and I am taking of the age range from perhaps 14 to 21. I wonder how much pressure the educational system is placing on your people, because hence a lot of pressure is being placed on the educational system. Even now in the UK, there are a lack of teachers. So in a competitive world, young people are having a lot more pressure placed on them.
Difficultly understanding oneself let alone understanding what others request of you
This is something I could almost relate to. For those who are young it is not always easy to understand yourself, let alone trying to figure out what people require of you. I could state that even at my age, I do not fully understand all the things I do and yet when I look back when I was a lot younger, I can appreciate how far I have come with all the pressures placed on myself. Understanding our place in society while we are young seems to be common in every generation and to be honest, this generation is no different except with one big issue.
There is so much information, from mobile phones, tablets, the news, computers and even from the Internet. More storage, more memory and more speed. Never before has young people have access to so much information, but the problem with information is that it needs to be processed before we can understand it. Place the quantity of information in an ever changing society and the pressures on young people multiply.
Connecting with others takes time
For every age be it old or young, connecting with other people takes time, but I suspect that when you are younger, connecting with other people may take just a bit longer. When you are young, the idea of trust is vitally important. Being young means you place yourself in situations that you perhaps have not experienced before, because your emotions need to be guarded. This is a tough situation to be in if our connections go wrong and it takes a long time for a young person to heal when they older. Connecting with others be it through your peers, friends, family or the community presents a tough challenge in today’s times.
Community struggles with who belongs
All communities have their own problems and challenges, but I find that in today’s times the community seems to be more distance. Perhaps the community seems fragmented. I do admit we have “peoples days” and “festivals” and celebrations, but after those are over, what is the legacy?
I am not saying there is an easy fix, we all need to get on and try and do our best, no matter what is asked of us, but its harder to do this when you are young person these days. I can only sympathize with them, I feel it is so important to give young people a voice so they feel they are part of the community for far too long adults like myself try and speak for young people and try to second guess their problems, which I suppose is what I am doing right now.
Learning how to cope
Coping through the tough times can be difficult. Coping through the tough times when your young can be a far more difficult challenge. With the advantages of age and experience, if you have coped through emotional difficulties before, then its often the case that you have learnt how to cope and you can see things through.
When you are young, the territory can often be new. Of course there are resources available to try help young people to cope with the emotional and physical stresses of their life, but so much can be at risk when new emotional challenges present themselves to a young person for the first time.
The pressures of technology
Perhaps out of all the problems mentioned so far, this one is the most unique and the most critical. As soon as I step outside into the neighbourhood, it won’t take long to find someone’s head buried in their mobile phone, or if you get on the tube or bus, you can see someone using their tablet. Technology has given us many advantages and benefits in connecting to each other and sharing things through Facebook or other social media, but there are problems as well…what could they be?
As for one, it is so much easier to just stay at home and play games, education is so much easier off the internet. The pressure to keep pace with new devices is an added weight this all costs money and young people can loose out as since they are busy connecting to social media, there is a trade off in not being able to connect with the environment or friends. Every new generation has their challenges, but technology places a new challenge never seen before and shows no signs of slowing down.
On this topic, young people’s physical health has taken a tumble and this has probably fed off from the problems of technology, connecting with the community or struggling to cope. I am not stating all young people’s physical health suffers, but the pressure to avoid exercise has increased due to the age where its harder to feel safe in parks, its easier to connect with technology, the food we eat has become cheaper, but can also be more unhealthy. One thing I have noticed on travelling around on the buses in the afternoons is the amount of fried food packages left lying around. Perhaps young people are not to blame as such food has become so cheap to buy, but all this takes their toil on young people’s physical health. There has to be a price to pay.
This is hard to avoid and yes financial pressures are all round, but with young people they have to rely on their peers when it comes to financial situations. As we all know, good finances means more choice, that being more choice on what we can do, more choice on how to cope, more choice overall. Yet, never has it been so hard for young people to get into work after they have left education, it is a struggle for young people to get that choice if finances are so hard.
Wondering about the future
This is not always a problem, but the future is hurtling towards us at an increasing and frightening pace. If you are old or young, we tend to worry about the future, but for those who are young, it must be difficult to wonder how the future will turn out, especially if you lack the means to control your own destiny. We all do this, we wonder how long we can connect with our families and friends, we wonder where we will live or wonder if we will move into a different interest.
It does not help when we spend so much of our lives doing so much, that there is little time to wonder if we are living right. Can you imagine the situation for younger people?
This happens to all ages, old or young. There are many types of bullying, but being bullied when you are young can cause so many difficult problems. Lets not beat around the bush here, bullies are cowards and there is no doubt about it, but the situation is the same, bullying still carries on, bullying is the hidden menace in schools, in colleges and outside in the play areas, out on the streets. Young people, especially those who are bullied face a difficult choice, will they get that support if they decide to tackle the bullying? I am not saying there is a perfect solution to this issue, I am just pointing out that this is one of the pressures young people experience today.
I have mentioned the problem of education in some of the points that I have raised earlier. We are all born with unique gifts and talents, but now days I am not afraid to state that the education system places so much more on our young people in order for them to be successful in society, but what if you struggle with education when you are young these days? Do young people still belong in a society where getting ahead means so much? What about those whose interests or values are not entirely on education?
Coping with discrimination
In today’s society we are all different, I am proud to live in a society where we can learn so much about different cultures and celebrate them. We are a more tolerant society in the UK, but this is not always the case. There are times when people will point out differences as if they are weaknesses, there are times when its easier to pick on younger people because they may lack the experience to defend themselves. There are times when being young is a stigma in society itself. We live in a society of labels, there is no easy way to get away from it. Sometimes I notice that young person people can be associated with trouble making, being ungrateful or just not learning fast enough. As a young person, how easy can it be to cope with discrimination?
I am sure I have missed out so many things which young people can experience, but I certainly am eager to find out ways how young people can battle these issues and challenges. With each subject I have pointed out, if young people are not supported then the risk can cause damage to their well-being, be it mental or physically. We all have our part to play and we must not let this happen, but pointing out problems is only half the battle. What are the solutions? what ideas can be of use? How can young people be empowered to face these challenges with the skills required of them?
I have mentioned this before and I am not afraid it again. I cannot speak for young people and it is of the utmost importance young people have their own voice. I can only speculate what difficulties and challenges young people face in today’s fast moving world. However one thing I have noticed ever since I have started visiting events and festivals is what is celebrated for young people’s well-being?
I have probably been to and review around 60 events and very few of them are geared to young people, but tomorrow on the 26th July 2014. I get to check out the Happy Heads festival, where many partners and sponsors aim to celebrate well-being for young people. Each partner has played their role in working with young people to face the challenges and issues I have pointed out earlier and to get an idea of who I am talking about let me list them for you.
Together we Can
South London and Maudsley
and I am sure many more that I have contributed or will be there on the day.
Looking at their HappyHeads site, one thing that has stood out are the five ways to happiness, which can be aimed at young people. What can they mean? and how can these ways help us in order to achieve happiness? Of course these are my views and perhaps I may misunderstand some things, but I felt its important to give our views because we can all learn from each other.
If we take the time to connect to each other, then connection can bring understanding, connection can bring unity, connection can bring belonging and so much more. As a society we can be separated for so long, we often wonder if connecting to anything but our mobile apps is worth the trouble, but now more than ever is connecting so important in a world where its easier to keep our distance. Connecting is what makes us a community, connecting is what makes the community stronger not only for people, but for younger people who are an important part of the community. Connecting to any one is not something so easy and its probably not the only solution to many challenges young people may face, but connecting can lead to happiness.
What ever we notice can lead to many things, noticing is a rather general activity, but what happens if we gear or aim what we notice into something that can lead to happiness? What happens if we notice that we are breathing….that’s it, stop just there and notice you ARE breathing, notice you are alive. Do you notice your problems you were worrying about melt away for a moment?
What happens if you notice the glass being fall full than being half empty? You can begin to now understand it is what we notice that can lead to happiness and happiness can lead to us coping with the issues I have raise earlier on. I am not stating this thing is easy, but whatever we notice can be a powerful tool for young people.
Giving can be one of the most powerful and personal things a person can do, although the act of giving is not in the gift itself, it is the action of giving, the time it takes to make the decision to give rather than receive or wanting that is most humble. When we give, we state to others that we are there for them, we connect with them, not just to make us happy as that can sometimes be self serving, we give because we WANT to help others be happy in their situation. It need not be a physical or material gift, we can give in so many ways and many of us to do not even realize we give every day.
Young people give all they have got and do not realize this special resource, while others do not know the powerful of giving and how it can heal not only others, but ourselves. Giving can and often does lead to happiness in ourselves.
There is no way of getting away from Learning, be it from educational to awareness or learning how to get ahead, but you do not have to be a triple “A” student to value the skill of learning. We are learning every day no matter what talents you have, but the situation is do you know that you are learning? So much pressure is placed on young people to learn a resource and if they fail to make the grade, then they feel put off from learning, but this is a big mistake. Learning should be about learning something we find of value to ourselves as well. Every day, every hour, every minute we learn something and this should be celebrated. Learning can lead to happiness.
This probably one of the most important things that a young person can value. Being young is about energy, movement and creativity. I can tell you for sure when you get to my age, that being active is important, but a whole different ball game. An active person has a chance to get out there and use their bodies to help with their wellbeing. Its not always about Minds, our body is important as well and if our body is not in good shape, our minds can suffer. This is also visa versa, we need to celebrate and use our bodies to be active, especially young people. So being active can lead to happiness.
Happiness is not the only thing to help young people in a difficult world, but it is an important thing to help young people. Happiness can help our wellbeing and should be celebrated, especially for young people who are under more pressure more than ever before. I hope tomorrow I will experience each of the 5 ways to wellbeing and blog about what I have seen.
Thanks for reading through my blog post. You can find out more about Happy Heads festival here…http://happy-heads.org/index.php?page=10