Mental health has been making headlines on a regular basis for the past few months now. If statistics are anything to go by, mental health concerns, especially in our younger generations, are on the rise. With pressure to conform to stifling societal standards; to be beautiful, successful or rich, emanating from various sources, including aggressive advertising hype and social media, it’s small wonder that young people today are suffering from devastating problems which are crippling their emotional and mental wellbeing. The transition from childhood to adulthood has never been an easy journey, but in the second decade of this millennium, the road to a serene and fulfilling adulthood is even more strewn with hurdles.
But what does success mean for a young person on the brink of adulthood? Is getting a degree, earning enough money and independence conducive to a serene life? And success, what does it exactly mean? Is striving for status, power and material possessions the whole purpose of human existence at the cost of one’s mental and emotional wellbeing? As young people embark on their journey towards adulthood, we need to make them aware that ultimately being in a good place, emotionally and mentally, should be their number one priority. Life is complicated enough as it is, and even more so for those of tender years, but with a few simple pointers it needn’t be such a devastating journey…
You are you – Learn to listen to what others have to say, but never go against that for which you stand for. Your beliefs and values are yours and yours alone and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Be generous – With your time and experience; life will be all the richer for giving.
Love yourself – Acknowledge your imperfections and failings but recognise the good in yourself… Striving for perfection all of the time is a soul-destroying exercise in futility.
No fear – Throw yourself into new experiences even if they are beyond your comfort zone, after all you are only young once.
Be the best you can be – Finish whatever project you have started on, do you best in your studies, work, relationships and you’ll never have to look back and ask, ‘What if?’
YOLO – You only live once, so live only according to your own expectations and abilities, and nobody else’s, no matter how well intentioned or tempting the advice.
Restore your faith – In human nature, that is. Yes, the world could be a cold, dark and evil place, but let go of paranoia (despite what you may think, not everyone’s out to get you!) recognise the so many good things around you, the love of family and friends and always remember to be grateful.
Curiosity – It is what ultimately helped you grow and develop as a child. Be curious of the world and its people and you’ll find that there are plenty of lessons to be learnt well into old age.
Do no harm – Respect your family, friends, teachers, fellow students, bosses and work colleagues in a way that you never hurt their feelings even if unintentionally. Measure your words before speaking out and never wound others with your actions. Always treat others in much the same way you want to be treated.
Take no shit – Respect is a two-way street. Never be anyone’s doormat for any reason whatsoever. Bullying comes in many shapes and forms so speak up if something or someone is belittling you or making you feel uncomfortable in any way.
Gratitude – Be thankful for what you have; the sacrifices your family has had to make, your teachers, your friends. But mostly be grateful for the privilege of so many things we inevitably take for granted; health, food, shelter.
Learn to let go – Let go of failed relationships, missed opportunities, life impacting mistakes. As the saying goes, ‘Bitterness is like cancer, it feeds upon the host’, so live, learn and move on because ultimately this is the only way forward.
Sense of humour – The ability to never take yourself too seriously is a gift we’ve all had since childhood. Do not lose it in the nitty-gritty of daily life. Laughing your way through life’s hurdles is what will keep you sane and grounded in the next few years!