There is no single word, phrase, or term to fully describe today’s political climate. Despite our constant exposure to the heartbeat of modern-day America and its ups and downs, we can all agree that messy, disconcerting, and surreal cannot even begin to describe our political state.
As young adults, we’ve all grown past the stage in our lives in which problems don’t exist. Here we are now, being told that we need to get into a university, earn some money—all the while trying to balance both what others tell us and what we tell ourselves. To some, that is enough to bring on waves of insecurity, sadness, and emotional distraught. Depression and anxiety are sometimes seen by medical professionals as “side effects” of a tumultuous home and school life. Combine impending adulthood with a chaotic government and you get a stressful and sometimes unproductive lifestyle that puts one at a greater risk of mental deterioration. I’ve found that growing up turns us into different people, for better or worse.
When I began my first year of homeschooling, it was incredibly stressful. My whole life, I’d never been so deeply isolated from my peers and what seemed like the rest of the world. It made me incredibly sad and paranoid. I was 15 then, and being forced to live alone with my conflicting thoughts on my situation, the world, and what the future held for me was frightening, but in hindsight, incredibly pivotal in my development. During this time, Hollywood was in the process of uprooting its decades-old habits of assault and harassment. News of powerful men and their crimes were in every headline. I had the chance to observe the parallels between the sudden shift in my life and the turning of tables taking place in the entertainment industry. It gave me a rare glimmer of hope; my own life seemed to have been torn apart at its seams, but the demands of justice in the industry I planned to work in were finally being heard.
Every generation is different, and while some adults had the luxury of a peaceful adolescence, I wonder if ours is as lucky. We will enter the world with a mindset of instant gratification; everything comes at the press of a button and the flash of a screen. We have enough food for several lifetimes (though the same cannot be said for other parts of the world), medication more effective than it's ever been in the past, and most importantly, we’ve been granted a voice. Through the internet, both children and adults can voice their opinions and thoughts. The power of technology is both substantial and crucial to the world’s development. It is like any other generation’s defining landmark: it carries both good and bad on its shoulders.
Our constant exposure to news and the happenings of the world can be a lot to bear. We’ve all heard how “depressing” it is, but nobody can deny how important is it to keep up, especially when our lives are so directly connected to the way our social system is run. Over the past two years, my friends, family, and acquaintances alike have been affected by shifts in the justice system. I first heard of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on the radio. I’ll be honest, at first I thought nothing of it. I now look back at my first take with horror. The mass murdering of children in schools across our country has occurred so often in the past twenty-odd years that we’ve become desensitized. The news finally began to hit me in the days following the massacre. Slowly, the facts began to trickle in; according to accumulating news reports, seventeen people had been killed in total, fourteen of whom were children. The gunman was also a young adult. There had been signs. It could have been prevented. The event spurred student walkouts nationwide, using our voices to garner the attention of Congress and call for change. My district participated in such walkouts. My friends and peers organized rallies and speeches. We made calls to our representatives. Watching the young adults I’ve known my whole life work so hard in solidarity towards an event we knew we were connected to made me realize just how loud our voices really are. At times, I almost forgot we were “just kids.” We all had deadlines to make and personal lives to attend to, but the need for political and moral change brought us as a community and nation together as one. And as an assemblage, we were able to make change and receive long-awaited attention.
A teenager’s life is already as complicated as it needs to be. To remedy the complications our individual lives have suffered due to a messy world, love is most needed, both to bring into the light and to keep for ourselves. Together as a generation, we have power. Our voices, individual and as one alike, are more unbridled than they ever have been in the past. Right now, we have a very substantial presence in the events that define a era. With our power, we can and will do better.