Dear young people,
I don’t mean to be crude, but it’s time to grow up.
Let me tell you why.
We live in complicated times. It’s more difficult to be a young person than ever before. I fully understand the instinct to avoid responsibility in response to this pressure, to become immobilized by fear and doubt.
It’s so commonplace for young people to be nihilistic and apathetic that we forget it didn’t used to be this way. Historically, young people have been the dreamers of society. They used to possess naïve hopefulness and stubborn determination that could steer the path of humanity toward a brighter future.
It now seems the world is regressing in its morality on many fronts, and I believe the youth hold the antidote to this sickness. It’s only through constant reach toward growth, sparked by idealists, that societies can evolve. We have the choice to sit back and watch the world burn while blaming others, or we can step into our power as the generation that will next inherit the earth and fulfill our duty to make it better.
The first step on this path to a better world is choosing to take action, which always begins with the individual.
We need to grow up and learn to look after ourselves first, then do our best to help others and contribute to a broader good if we can. We cannot expect to change anyone or anything without first taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives.
“Self-care” is a very trendy topic these days, and the root of it stems from our need to prioritize our own well-being. With this foundation, we can then give from a healthy place of wholeness and avoid feeling depleted or resentful.
This is an essential component of the journey toward adulthood.
We begin our path as small, helpless creatures, requiring selfless care from an older and wiser adult or two to simply keep us alive. Bit by bit, we hopefully build the skills needed to navigate life on our own, but this is not always the case.
Unfortunately, many young adults stay in an eternal loop of relying on others to function at even a basic level. I don’t say this to be harsh, but rather to highlight that it is becoming an increasingly common choice to choose to be childlike forever—a choice that affects not just the immediate people around us that we burden, but one that ripples outward to contribute to a failing culture where this is the norm.
You may still cringe at the prospect of accepting responsibility. It’s something that many people spend their whole lives running from in one way or another. We have access to endless streams of pleasure-seeking distractions, messages telling us that we’re faultless and don’t need to improve ourselves, as well as infantilizing advice on how to cope with simple daily life stresses.
None of this is truly helpful since it only offers temporary relief from the inevitable pain of living. Life is hard. And the kicker is that it never gets easier. The only thing we have the power to change is ourselves, so our only option to thrive is to intentionally adapt to better handle life’s obstacles. By not falling into these avoidance traps, we can build resilience and learn to overcome our personal challenges instead of being a slave to them.
Though I am broadly encouraging self-responsibility, it’s undoubtedly true that some people are given unfairly difficult circumstances to contend with in life.
We all have struggles, but in no way am I suggesting they are all equal. When I point out that you are the only person capable of changing your life, I say it because it is counterintuitively an extremely freeing concept. Instead of being held to the whims of fate, we can at the very least recognize that our reactions to our environment are determined only by us. You don’t choose where you begin, but you always have the choice of how to proceed from where you are. By embracing this concept, you will realize you have far more power to direct your life than you’d ever imagined.
So we’ve arrived at a crossroads.
We must choose between the lonely uphill trek of becoming an adult and taking accountability for our life, or staying comfortable and dependent on others.
It’s hardly surprising that many pick the smoother path where their worries are small and their maturity is stagnant.
Why would one ever choose the more difficult journey you may wonder? It’s because responsibility is freedom. Once you learn you can suffer and still survive, you can have problems and overcome them: you will gain the competence needed to live your life intentionally and with freedom.
This is something I dearly wish everyone could experience. Growing up will change your life for the better, and beyond that, the world.
Young people are the dreamers and truth-seekers in society. It’s high time we step back into this essential role; the world is counting on you.