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Young Spirits

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Education & Career

How come that being a young person in 2011 means that people keep telling you that you should be careful about what you say and how you say it? That you should do as you are told? They fail to wonder whether I agree with what it takes to become successful in life and what my definition of it is. I know that the age of freedom is a myth, but some still like the need to educate me as a little child in the name of liberation. It is interesting to see that the very same people who claim to be or have been dominated, easily fall into the same oppressive roles once gaining power. Self-claimed feminists, anti-racists and teachers who have grown older and into institutionalized positions of authority.

They need to have this infantile idea of the other, in order to keep believing that their life work and accomplishments are valuable and need to be transferred to the younger generation. What many of them forget, is that the younger generation deals with a time period of its own. We have our own unique and different life circumstances, experiences, and struggles. That we are younger, that we do not belong to the established elite or want to resemble it, does not mean that our joys and sorrows are any less and less important. They might even be more relevant as we are the majority and future of this world. It is sad how many generations seem to lack an attitude of understanding over and over again and how this has fed many of the worlds historical tragedies.

I find myself in this in-between state of life. Not simply because I am a second generation ethnic minority, or a bit more critical than probably most people about the roles assigned to women and men. I am not thirty, have not gotten married, have no children, have no professional career, or a decent house. Apparently this gives some people reason to believe that they know better and are more life wise than I am. Honestly, I am grateful for the modesty I still obtain from my daily reality. It enables me to stay true to myself and to remain open to other people who do not fit the conventional criteria for success. This Amsterdam heart of mine will never leave me as it is part of my spirit that has taught me how to survive thanks to a diversity of people down to earth.

The older I grow, the more I love to learn from younger people. I think it speaks of an old fashioned narrow sightedness to think that they know less and cannot teach older people anything. Then again, many people do not want to learn, they want to retain their old world image and logic. Change could disturb the ways they have always done things and justified their life style and power position. They have developed a certain truth, one could even say unspoken religion. Perhaps that is where the anger and hypersensitive reaction comes from once a younger being refuses to accept the role of the infant student. As the older generation’s life duration is close to expiration, I will not let anything stop me anymore from enjoying that I am young. I want to acknowledge my life and my generation right here and now. Join the action while it is happening and not publish prestigious books about these years only at middle age.

I do not take for granted the days that I receive. I do not assume we will grow old. And I do not think that life is fair, as death hits often randomly. Success is being able to enjoy this moment. To breathe life now. Love your cherished ones in action while they’re still here. Maybe this generation does not believe that it necessarily needs to obtain high diplomas and large bank accounts? Perhaps it believes that there are other ways, in which you will not have to be some one’s inferior one in order to get to what you want to do and be. After all the sacrifices that previous generations have made within my family, I would like to believe there should come a generation that does not have to have this as the compulsory life style nor has to join the competitive and merciless rat race.

I am taking a step outside the predestined ways of thinking. Who knows I do have much more power than I could have imagined and what right does anyone have to tell me I should be afraid to think this and should act as I am told, without having the decency and respect to see the person in front of his or her very own eyes…and to listen. There are older generations that do feel you are never too old to learn and grow, to change. Who have kept or regained the characteristic of humbleness. Some of them, like my mother, know that big talks of the older elite generations do not fill the unequal power gaps between them and the non-elite older and younger ones. She supports my rebellious spirit and never makes me feel I know less or am stupid.

You see, she knows me, has witnessed my life experiences, my choices in life. She loves me for who I am and believes that I can get to live the life that I want to live within my life time. Not because she is naive as she has seen a lot of the worlds ugliness. Not only because I am her daughter, since it is exactly me that she would want to protect from life’s harsh realities…but because she realistically trusts in the strength and values of the person whom she has given life to and put onto Earth to go her own way as she always had wanted to. She will never deny me the joy that I could have, because of the joy she could not have. She will never force on me a specific course in life, because she could not take another or easier path. That's the difference between a mother and belittling: love is letting go. She may not have obtained the high diplomas and large bank account, she has the vision of an incredible strong woman. Dreaming as a scarred person is not a weakness, it is bravery. Whatever any other woman has to say to me, you cannot beat that.

Photo © Andrea Huls


Don’t shy away from confrontation or conflict. Like the muscles in your body, which won’t grow or stay toned and ready for action without pressure and a bit of pain, your spirit needs conflict in order to transcend. As you grow stronger in your spirit and your confidence, it will be harder for people to manipulate or intimidate you.

Anthea Paul