The fire in our belly can change the world
Although I think that might be a common notion that teenagers are becoming unhappier, I feel that is what is making the world more perfect. Everyone has become so ambitious that the sky is the limit. As they say, “The race to perfection has no finish line.” We are always aiming for more, never satisfied with what we have, but that is what creates the fire and the passion, which is really important because if we are content with what we have we will just sit back and not work hard. What is important is to figure out what you are really good at and focus on that instead of trying to do something you don’t enjoy or are not good at. Do what you love and love what you do.
Obviously all children are good at something or the other and everybody’s interest lies in a particular place. Parents should recognise that. The decision to do what you want to do will be made by the teenager but it is the parents who are responsible for shaping the mindset based on which the child has made such a decision. So both the parties are responsible equally and it is imperative to realise what is best for the child and for parents to support their journey. Also, a little pressure never hurts.
From Mr Rohan Kapur
Student living in Sharjah
The ‘participation trophy’ culture is no good
I actually have two contradictory observations on this issue. Firstly, I would say, yes, young adults are under too much pressure to achieve because I have discovered that in Indian culture, for example, it is common to push yourself a lot, especially during examinations. If they happen to fail, some teenagers tend to commit suicide. I have been reading about such cases. Coming from the Phillippines, looking at my own experience, I would say that I am an achiever myself — I came from a very poor family, pushed myself and worked in order to sustain my studies. I did a day job and a night job because I had a goal. There was no pressure. Whenever I did not meet my goals, I would think radically and look at what went wrong. I am also a blogger, and blogging helped me give feedback to myself.
Coming to my contradictory observation, I have also noticed a lot of times that millennials are not exerting enough effort. Without generalising an entire generation, based on my own experiences, I would say that they can behave in an entitled manner, wanting everything instantly. As a teacher, I have noticed what we would call the ‘spoon-feeding culture’. Students don’t have the patience to sit down and listen to instrucitons, they binge through the process and don’t go through things step-by-step.
Additionally, I also think the culture of ‘participation trophies’ is not helping, I am completely against it as it devalues actual achievement. How will we motivate children when we are giving away trophies or certificates for participating? You lose but you still achieve a medal? How does that work? If this continues, I don’t think students will push hard and try their best.
From Mr Nicart Obsuna
Physical education head at a Dubai-based school
If you know what you want to do and why you want to do it, there is no pressure
There is pressure on everyone not just teenagers but teenagers are in a more fragile state and the reason the pressure appears more on teenagers is because they are at an age where they need to set their identity and discover who they are.
Online lives can also have an impact but it depends on how you use social media. In general, online presence can increase pressure simply because everyone online is comparing you with someone else. Even you are comparing yourself with someone else, so you suffer from this inner dilemma. The key is to be transparent, don’t wear a mask, and keep a clear line between private matters and your public life.
I think the biggest challenge is that young adults don’t know where they are headed. If you reflect on your goals and try to achieve them, you won’t feel the pressure because you will stay focussed. For example, over two years ago, I decided to start workshop to raise awareness about people with determination because I felt that different segments of society needed to hear our personal perspective as well as learn how to help different people of determination. The main reason I wanted to start this is that it helped promote an inclusive society and it would provide people with a general background of the issue. So, I decided to do workshops for different sectors – medical staff, government entities, students and teachers. I had a different set of workshops for children because if you want to create a change it has to be at a young age.
Because I believe in planning and plan 10 times before starting something, I did not feel overwhelmed. So, if you know what you want to achieve and why you want to do it, you won’t feel the pressure.
From Ms Fatma Al Jassim
Dubai Youth Council Member and a UAE Pioneers award winner
There may be a few instances of young adults feeling overwhelmed, but I don’t see it as something happening en masse. It really depends on their individual plans, especially in terms of higher education and where they hope to study in the future. If they are looking to enter universities and colleges that are highly competitive, yes, there will be a sense of pressure and trying to get an edge to get to where they want to be. It also depends on the social milieu they belong to and the kind of expectations the family has along with the individual goals. So, the reality is different based on what target they have set themselves.
As for parents, there is a segment of parents who try to hoist their dreams onto their children and might have unrealistic expectations. It also could be that they want bragging rights when they sit with friends and family but, again, I cannot say that many families suffer from this problem because in the UAE you have people from various economic and social economic backgrounds and the situation can vary based on where you are.
I would just advise students to get a reality check rather than setting unrealistic goals and feeling unhappy and miserable. At the same time, I would say we should strike a balance so that we all strive for better things. It is not just about marks, we should have a holistic to have a real impact on society.
From Ms Rema Menon
Career counsellor based in Dubai
— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor
Gulf News asked: Are teenagers today under more pressure to excel in life than in the past?
Have Your Say: Do you agree that young adults today are under more pressure than ever? Do you tink parents are suffering from “Child-contingent self-esteem” (the tendency for a parent to base their own self-worth on the success of their child)? What do you think is leading to the feeling among young adults of feeling overwhelmed? Share your views on the issue or join us for future debates. Write to us at email@example.com