The generation paradox

A friend of mine always says: ‘It is the function of young adults to believe they can change the world’. I always liked this view, for it seem to give everyone in society a job. The young generation creates change, the older generation keeps a sense of continuity. And just recently I realized that neither one of them can exist without the other.

Me myself, at this moment part of ‘the young generation’, believe that I can change this world. I am well aware that I might not change the world literally, but by aiming high I might change a very small part of it for the better. My conviction that I can change the world, allowed me to start dreaming of different ways to do so, while on the other hand it made me rebel against certain parts of existing society. I believed that certain systems in society, for example the mental healthcare system, were not fit for everyone (could not help everyone) and therefore change was necessary. This view also made me want to challenge the existing system with new ideas, new ways to hopefully assist more people in their search of a good life. But with the focus so much on change, I lost the understanding of the value of the existing system. I just thought it was sub-optimal. But then something changed.

A lot of the time we seem to be thinking that we can change something by doing something completely new. I know people who do not like the part of society that just focuses on earning money and  making a career, so they stopped participating in society and build a life outside of it. I wonder however, if this is meant to change something, can it actually do that? Can you change something once you are no longer part of it? The same would go for me with my change of the mental healthcare system; can I change it when I am not longer in interaction with it, when I turn my back on it? Or if you wish to change parts of yourself, can you change something about yourself if you turn your back on who you are right now?

I think we cannot. If I want to improve something of myself, I also need to allow the current me to exist, I need to embrace the mess that I am as Liz Gilbert says. By embracing who I am today, interaction is possible and by interacting with the parts I wish to change I can actually change. Just dismissing the parts I want to change, does not really realize change, it just allows me to add something to the pile of personality parts. The samegoes for when you want to change something about society. You can turn your back to it and make something new, but are you then changing society or are you building something new? If you wish to change society, you need to interact with it, which means that on some level you might need to embrace where society is right now.

For a long time, this was very difficult for me as well. It seems so paradoxical to embrace the present to realize future change; but embracing is not the same as agreeing with something. I can embrace society as it is and be thankful for it, but that does not mean that I always agree with it. Just the same, I can embrace myself for who I am today while also striving to change some things about myself. Both can exist at the same time. The older generation and the new generation can exist at the same time, in society as well as within ourselves. Both are necessary and both are infinitely valuable.

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