There is a whole new wave of politically motivated young people, ready to develop solutions | Noah Gwatkin | Australia news

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Name: Noah Gwatkin

Age: 18

Dreams of: Still working it out

New year means a new me, hey? This year I’m not hoping for a new me – but I am definitely different to the me that began last year. For starters, I’ve always thought things would get better every new year but as I get older I’ve realised that luck runs out. And I’m still not that old.

I’m feeling hopeful as we start 2021 but I think we’ve all had a slap in the face from 2020. I’ve had a slap in the face. As the months, weeks, hours of 2020 ebbed and flowed I would almost hold my breath in the hope of an escape from the madness. Then as we concluded last year I began to fear that the madness wasn’t around me but maybe it had become me. Like the chaos and uncertainty of last year had actually consumed me.

Last year I felt like I was thrown in the deep end and told to learn to swim. I became consumed by the news cycle, anticipating and eager to be hit with something new; a new catastrophe, a new cause to rally behind or a new bombshell that might send my friends and I into hysterics. I felt abandoned. It felt hard to ground myself. And I was not the only one; my friends feel the same. 2020 was a physical, mental and social struggle. For 2021 I see many of the same challenges: possible Covid outbreaks, job insecurity, vaccination, working out whether to go to university or Tafe and, on top of all that, you throw growing up into the mix. It’s tempting to throw up my hands and give up.

It’d be an understatement to say that I have grown from last year and I think I will grow and bloom over the years to come, like the scorched plants that sprout after a bushfire. I am certainly more cautious about how big I dream, or how far ahead I set goals, but I am optimistic that it’s possible that we build back stronger.

I think my generation have become increasingly interconnected, and that’s a good thing. We all rely on connections, the glue that holds people and their social lives together. When you have a pandemic and you can’t interact with people in traditional ways, what do you do? You use technology, Instagram, Facebook, FaceTime, Snapchat, Tiktok. These have become the meeting places for so many, and we young people have pioneered that.

We have created spaces to connect, share ideas, grow, experiment and expand our ideals, in ways we wouldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. It means those who need help, have a cause to fight for or are sharing their personal stories can engage with people far and wide. It means there is a whole new wave of politically motivated young people, ready to develop solutions to our most formidable problems. That is something that excites me for the year ahead.

My generation have become more compassionate, passionate and adaptive adults-of-the-future as a result of the pandemic, public debate and social change of last year. We have been given a unique experience to grow, expand our field of view to see those around us, and consider how we can help others, close and remote. It’d be a shame if we didn’t use what we have learned to better ourselves and forward our public discussion around issues from homelessness to healthcare.

The challenges 2020 threw at me personally – break-ups, depression, battles with family over sexuality, unemployment and on and on – brought me to a crossroads. Do I change and adapt, make mistakes and learn, analyse and move forward, or do I wallow in my own self-pity, unable to act, too worried about the next step and too afraid to take risks? I think the former.

2020 will help us. It has helped me – to be a better friend, son, citizen, young parliamentarian and worker. I have learned how I should get up, rebuild and move on.

So this new year I have not set any resolutions. It’s time for change, movement towards what we can only hope will be a better year, for myself, friends and family. To have adjusted to such a rapidly changing environment over last year has given me a whole new set of skills that I am ready to put to work. It has laid the groundwork for what I know will be a better and more rewarding year for me, and I hope everyone else, too.

Dreams Interrupted

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: There is a whole new wave of politically motivated young people, ready to develop solutions | Noah Gwatkin | Australia news

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