By Jessica Newhouse
Fears. We all have them. Even the most bravest of souls fear something, whether it be personally or worldly. Some of the things we fear we can’t explain or they’re too personal that we keep them to ourselves and don’t express them to even the closest people to us.
Fears can range from simple things, like being afraid of the dark, to something more broad like the fear of isolation.
This generation falls under the category of “fear or be feared.” This means that most people either deal with fears all the time because of what they do everyday or they’re feared themselves because they have a hard time expressing themselves and choose to be a “bully” to society.
What this generation fears the most is judgment and rejection. We’re so afraid of what someone’s going to think that we don’t speak up on our opinions, and we don’t go for something just because we think we’ll get turned down.
According to a current Grand Rapids Community College student, Ben Kouchnerkavich, what he fears is public speaking. Although he enjoys talking quite a lot, his fear comes from his anxiety because it’s been a part of him his whole life.
“My fear in this area is likely related to my anxiety, but I enjoy talking, so I try to channel my anxiety toward something positive-in this case, feeding off of my audience’s energy to use my extra adrenaline to keep going,” Kouchnerkavich said.
What does the future hold? Because nobody really knows until it finally arrives. We don’t know what we want to do until it’s too late and we’re so afraid of not succeeding in what we want the most. We let fear take over us because we’re afraid to risk it. We let it overcome us before we can overcome it.
“Perhaps what I hear my generation worry about the most is the security of their future,” said Kara Richele, 22, from Zeeland. “They talk about being able to afford having houses, whether or not they could raise their children right, or if they even have a future to look forward to. Everyone just seems kind of lost, like they have no idea what to do. Everyone has ideas, but none of them seem to be working.”
Challenges are just as hard to overcome as fears. For one thing, fears are basically challenges that so many people have, but don’t know how to handle them. Challenges are much bigger. This generation has been through a lot. From economic issues with struggling to pay for educational expenses to diversity in the workforce. Even the most simplest of things like school and balancing work and a social life. As a young adult, these things get harder the older we get.
One thing in particular that stands above the rest is social media. For this generation, social media is basically everything to us. We’ve grown up with it and it’s what gets us by everyday. How many likes can I get in a minute? How many followers should I have in order to be popular?
For current Holland High School student, Analisia Hines, this is something that she believes teens these days deal with all the time. “Our generation struggles with social media, we go to it for everything,” Hines said. “We post our feelings, our random thoughts, our friends, our food. Anything and everything. We even have spam accounts where you can post literally every single thing that happened and no one would care. We’re dependent on this distraction which scares me the most because now we don’t know how to be alone. We focus on our electronics for the time to go faster, or so we can procrastinate from doing homework. We miss out on the good things in life. We also struggle with self image and what our bodies should look like (male or female).”
And although these have been challenges that have been stressed over for quite a while, today’s teens are challenged more due to the fact that we’ve become more “lazy” and are overwhelmed by the changes within social issues and the fact that even getting into college has become harder to accomplish. Yet, “Millennials,” as we’re referred to, are the highest educated generation in history. As of 2014-2015, the high school graduation rate reached 85 percent and is predicted to reach 90 percent by 2020. The challenge is that unemployment rates go down due to the fact that educated workers are more in demand than in the workforce. Forty percent of unemployed workers fall into this category.
One of the biggest challenges for high school students to even get to college is the SAT’s or ACT’s. These tests are worthless. The SAT’s and ACT’s determine whether or not a student is “smart” or if they’re just lucky to have gotten a great score. And what about those who didn’t score great? Pay a fee in order to retake. For those who are actually smart, a test like this may not benefit them. Think about this: a student goes to school, gets good grades, does all their homework, and takes the classes they believe will help them get into a good college. The SAT comes around, and the questions are nothing like what they learned in any of their past classes. Then you have a student who may not be as smart and doesn’t take the more advanced classes, but actually works hard and is determined to graduate and to get into a good enough college. They take the SAT, but the questions are something they haven’t learned yet because they didn’t take a specific class. Or maybe, they end up doing even better than the smart kids because they guessed or “got lucky.” And then you have the final type of student who doesn’t like school, wants to drop out, doesn’t do any of their homework, but ends up getting a decent score on their test. Why is this? Because what is learned in school is not always going to help these students get into college. This is only one of the many challenges that this generation faces.
Other challenges include debt, depression and anxiety, which is at the highest it’s ever been compared to previous generations with 20 percent of teens suffering from depression before reaching adulthood and about 30 percent who suffer from anxiety due to not getting help. And debt rates have gone up six percent as of 2016. In case school wasn’t enough, we’re also getting challenges from around the world thrown at us that we have no say or abilities to help people of the same age as us who are dealing with much harder things than us.
Current Calvary Schools of Holland student, Miriam McDonald said, “this generation has faced many challenging things. With the exponential increase in what we can do with technology, we are learning about all kinds of problems all around the world that no generation before had access to. Our generation is still young and figuring things out, and it’s hard for us to know how to deal with all of these issues we’re bombarded with each and every day and maintain our sanity. We are shown poverty, starvation, disease, abuse, and illnesses, and while we want to help, there’s only so much we can do as young people. We are distressed by what we’re seeing and don’t know how to handle it.”
This generation is America’s future. And although there are so many things standing in our way, we try to push past them to live a much better life to make this world a safer and more stable place.