WOW | Ed Page
The lost innocence that rush for fame
As I spoke to a group of young women contestants of a pageant, I wondered what brought them here. The room was filled with energy and expectation but I also saw behind their eyes a strange tiredness, much older than their years. Well coiffed hair, high heels, short dresses and perfected make up could not hide the lost innocence that the rush for fame takes. I wondered what they would rather do had the world not defined success so harshly.
Interacting with young people every day, I almost always ask them what they do and what would they rather be doing. What does happiness mean to them? What is their definition of success?
The world today has defined success in terms of money, fame, fortune, power, glamour and the things you own. Often young people are made to carry the burden of their parent’s unfulfilled dreams. Many are made to study subjects that are not their choice. Many are nudged into careers they do not want. Many struggle to find meaning in the security of a regular job, marriage or lifestyle that was demanded of them.
Not many parents tell their kids to follow their hearts, to find their passion, to make mistakes, to do nothing, to do everything… not many find the courage to tell their children to own who they are.
And in this is the struggle and loss of being your best self. We teach our children to think, but we control their thoughts. We teach our children action, yet we question their every move. We talk to them about self esteem, integrity, confidence, pride and courage, but we hold them back when they want to spread their wings. We want them to explore the world, but we want to buy the tickets.
I remember as a 15 year old, I had decided that even if the things I do are a mistake, they would be my mistake. I did not want to carry the burden of others choices in my life. I wanted to do everything and nothing and I wanted to make that choice. I was called stubborn, strong willed and often reprimanded… I would question why I was taught about freedom when I couldn’t practice free will. I was also taught about responsibility. And I understood that freedom and personal responsibility are intricately linked. They are not independent of each other. But I also grew up with parents that stood by me through life’s achievements and failures… they never wavered. They were always there for me. I also learnt that not everybody has that.
In an increasingly complex world, I wish that young people are encouraged to be poets and dreamers and mountain climbers as much as they are encouraged to be doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs.
I wish for the youth today silence within, strength that comes from character, and the courage of self belief.