To be a 20‐something-year-old in today’s day and age is close to living a mundane nightmare. At the cusp of life, we are often found barely afloat in a vast sea of identities, desperately trying to find a place to belong.
“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
To have recently graduated from college and pushed out into the ‘real world’, nothing resonates with me more than the quote above. To be fed a constant dose of the Capitalist Dream, we are trapped within our own minds living in the delusion of reality.
The materialist structure ingrained in our minds thrives on spreading the belief that our self‐worth is directly proportional to our productivity; the harder you work – the better you earn – the better you earn – the more successful you are. The cycle is endless and, honestly, extremely tiring.
It is no wonder that the rate of depression among the youth in India has seen a significant rise in the last decade. But, how do you explain something as primitive as our mental well‐being to parents who cannot see its tangible causes?
We’ve all heard the stories. At least one of your parents or relatives must’ve told you how they walked 10 kilometres just to get to school (or a similar variant of this format). Their struggles, their lives, their thoughts – they were simpler. Times were simpler and so was their aim of survival.
In the making of a post‐war society, the primary goal is to build from the ground up.
Most of our parents lived a fairly middle‐class life with middle-class values and middle-class dreams of making it big. They seldom struggled with trying to find themselves because they were too busy building themselves up from scratch.
But we’re different.
While generations behind us looked for survival, we are on a quest to find an identity and if all else fails, to make one for ourselves.
“Who are you? an ape. a grape. a consciousness trapped inside a vessel that makes the frame.”
What is strange and vulnerable about this is that our search for identity is interconnected with the environment around us: our governments, our economy, our society, our politics and culture.
Our identities stem from the pride and denial of our very being. Be it a name, a sexuality, a gender – we are a generation obsessed with finding who we are and making sure that the world knows of it.
“Who are you? You are. We are. They are.”
But what happens when our environment itself is corrupted? When our field of experience is plagued with external disturbances that (in)directly influence us?
To read the paper and to understand the world today, is scary.
The grim hopelessness that is filled with the stench of war looming over our heads sends us down an existential spiral.
In times like these, how does one identify? How can one step up and fight when it feels like we’re all doomed? Climate change, communal killings, the possibility of war, the haplessness of the knowledge of the world – what does one do with it? For it?
I would like to believe that we are in that stage of the dialectic where everything goes to shit, and someone decides to revolt against it. But who is someone? Who are we? Who am I?
“A nothing. An everything. A question of being.”
Our battles are as internal as they are external. Even the blissfully ignorant remain trapped inside this mental cage built by the world around us. The least we can do is simply dare to think.
Think, question, react, debate.
These are weapons at our disposal that aren’t yet washed away into meaninglessness.
To think is to be; and to be is to find – against all odds – an identity that one can call their own.
And someday down the line, I hope that our parents will comprehend our struggle and be content with the fact that we’ve finally found ourselves.
Maithri is a 22 year-old from Hyderabad trying to figure out everything at once and nothing at all
Featured image credit: unsplash