The Generation of Misfits
Lately, there have been something’s that I’ve been frequently observing. I notice it every time I have those raw, unfiltered conversations with people of my age in which time becomes stagnant, and everything around me seems insignificant.
In those moments of true vulnerability, my peers always show a deep rooted anxiety, a torment of not knowing really where they belong. They’re all always either a bunch of optimists, dreaming of distant lands and foreign identities for themselves or they are all pessimists, who see no glory in their present now.
Either ways, they both end up at the dead end of an identity crisis, where it’s difficult for any of us really to simply describe who we are anymore or what place or culture feels like home.
Why do all the millennials and those came after them feel so misplaced?
Could it be the environments we grew up in, so fragile and volatile that one could never really predict where the tides were leading?
Could it be how rapidly how our worlds shifted, how our lives transformed all but in the blink of an eye?
When we were young, we got to taste the simpler times. We played out in the streets, ran our paper canoes in the dirty streams running down our neighborhoods’ alleys. Some of us even knew how to climb up trees, and steal plums, apples and vibrantly colored berries from our neighbor’s gardens.
But then, the moment we stepped into adolescence and our early teens, we became surrounded with things like the internet and those petite little phones, the first of their kinds. Suddenly, it was cool to own a flip phone and rad to prank call your teachers’ homes. We then forgot to leave our homes in the sunny afternoons to meet up with our friends and bike to local ice cream parlors for those five cents lollies. The new habit of making phone calls on rotary phones and sturdy landline sets eventually shifted with time to now making conference calls with our friends while seated alone in our empty rooms.
When we meet up today, it’s not in parks but in cafes instead. Where we sit on plastic chairs and snap all our pastries and cups of coffees that make our wallets empty but our social media full. The human mind however, has a way of remembering things. And so even when we now meet our friends in these peculiar ways, we always feel like the gaps in our souls remain agape. We feel the lack of connection, the lack of contentment. We long for those childhood’s moments of past, where we never planned anything but always made the craziest of memories.
Yet how can we go back to our old ways?
Everything’s changing too fast and there’s a feeling nothing could be the same.
The problem also remains, that we no longer know what we are chasing anymore. The world is now a global village they say and they ensure us that there are endless opportunities waiting for all. We could be a scientist, teacher, vlogger, or a chef. But how can one decide and conclusively say what they want to be, when no one wants to give us the free time to see? Our schools and colleges and everyone else, keeps records of our rigid schedules all up their shelves. They have calculated all for us, the exact dates on which we should either rest, or work or go to bed. We’re told we can paint our future however we like, but they never give us a blank canvas, all we get is some dyes and a little chunk of some time to make up our minds.
For those of us in the east of the world, where the traditional structures of family values, social constructs and gender norms dictate our lives, it feels suffocating at times. At the times when we yearn to see new places, backtrack across unknown valleys and step into the lesser known fields of life. We’re too scared to express ourselves, whether if it’s through that writing job, or that course in arts that we dreamed of. We’re burdened by the expectations of those around us, and left numb to make our own voices heard.
Yet how could it be our entire fault?
This globalized world that our elders built has us dreaming of New York while we live so far.
In the end, what we end up with, is listening to the melodious lullaby of Bob Dylan’s singing, of how the world is shifting and how we should too.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin