What goes through your mind when you hear the word youth? Most of us think young ,not yet mature ,not nearly as capable of making mature decisions when it comes to tough choices, problematic, unemployed, irresponsible ,drug addicts and many more thoughts cross our minds when we say youth .Most of the thoughts do not include capable,mature,independent,financially stable or positive adjectives to describe the youths. For most societies the youth are considered a nuisance and burden. This could be true but how about we look at the period of youth as a transition stage-a stage for moving from childhood to adulthood, and as in any stage of transition there are bound to be errors and mistakes made.
Youth is a stage for self-discovery. It provides a platform for one to explore and understand oneself and it does not necessarily need to be a problematic stage but rather a stage which help is needed for proper navigation. Most youth in Kenya do not successfully navigate this phase and end up disappointing themselves and others close to them but, this is mostly due to preconceived opinions and notions brought about by a “fixed mindset”. When a youth makes a mistake, maybe indulge in alcohol for the first time and is caught doing so, the first thought that goes through most adults mind is ‘amepotea’ which just goes to show how most of our societies have a fixed mindset. Rather than look at it from that perspective we could help the youth in realizing the mistake they have made without making them feel bad about themselves and from there help them find a solution and other alternatives other than indulging in drugs or other negative leisure activities.
This also goes for the other challenges that youth undergo for example unemployment; but this is not only for the society, youth should also play a role in changing the mindset of their community perceptions. The Youth cannot just sit and let things play out as they always do. For instance in the case of unemployment the young people can find alternatives and not just sit and be helpless and hope that tomorrow will be better without doing something about it.
According to Angela Duckworth, ‘When you have setbacks and failures do not overreact to them, you need to step back analyze them and learn from them .We should not just learn how to succeed but how to fail as well because through failures we get to know which path to avoid’.
Growing up I always knew that being going through adolescence and youth would be a murky situation which would need to be cautiously navigated but volunteering at Konnect Youth Consortium enabled me to change my mindset and look at it from another perspective. There are always two sides to a coin and yes, being a youth may be scary but with the right mindset, a growth mindset, we would realize that youth is also a wonderful stage. The most successful people are the ones who stay on a growth trajectory.