2018 marks my 20th year on this planet, a fact that I find entirely terrifying. It is not that I don’t feel ready to say goodbye to my teen years, but rather that I am panicked by the state of the world in which I must do so.
The past few years have been politically tumultuous, to say the least. When trying to envision what the next decade of my life will bring, it is Brexit that I find particularly concerning. As someone unable to vote in the referendum, I was devastated by the result. Of course, this disappointment was not shared by the young people who voted Leave, however, there is no denying that the lack of communication to the public regarding negotiations has been shambolic. Our so-called ‘strong and stable’ government seemingly has no idea what they are doing or what Brexit will mean for our future, both as individuals and as a nation.
Moreover, I am embarking on adulthood at a time when a man who refers to nations as “shitholes” and brags that his nuclear button is “much bigger and more powerful” than North Korea’s has managed to assume leadership of the ‘Free World’. Trump’s presidency is an embodiment of the generational disconnect so evident in our world today: its impending impact, particularly on international relations and civil liberties, is something I loathe to think about. The volatility of our world, also demonstrated by increasing terrorist attacks, ongoing nuclear threats, energy crises, the mistreatment of refugees and more, constantly fuels my anger towards the irresponsibility of the thoughtless ‘baby-boomers’.
It is naïve to suggest that we are the first generation subjected to the mistakes of our predecessors; this is simply the nature of the beast. Whether it be the anti-Vietnam protestors of the ‘60s or the MTV-sinners of the ‘80s, young people have always found themselves at odds with those at the top of our familial and governmental hierarchies. My fears for the future are nothing special. But, what is unique to young people now is that, despite feeling helpless about and misrepresented by current politics, our voices have never been heard more. Everyone always harps on about the negative implications of social media, but we must not forget that sites such as Twitter and Facebook provide young people with a space where we can express our undiluted opinions and publicly question those who we perceive to be making our futures unstable. Attempts to drown out these criticisms and opinions are considered an infringement on civil liberties, and thus we have a larger presence in the public sphere than any generation of young people before us. We are at the forefront of debates on issues ranging from gender, sexuality, race, to ethical eating. Not only that, if you look at the world around us, these conversations are manifesting real change. Moreover, the emphasis on young people within Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 election campaign, and the noticeable effect that this had, suggests that our influence may be trickling into mainstream party politics.
The notion of ‘coming of age’ and entering my twenties at a time when the world’s fate is so uncertain may be somewhat anxiety-inducing, but ultimately I have faith in those alongside whom I am facing this challenge. The words and actions of world leaders may be a complete contrast to what I personally believe, but the outpouring of resistance against such individuals and the progressive views shared by my peers makes me, perhaps foolishly, hopeful that entering my thirties will be a less fearful venture.