The future doesn’t just belong to young people

Let me start by saying I like young people. Their energy, enthusiasm, their desire for real change is exciting to witness and for what it’s worth, I’ll be supporting them every way I can. However, when I hear people say, “we need to do (fill in the blank) for younger people/generation,” it does make me question if the older generations are resigned to the thought that change cannot start to take place now.

So many times, people tell themselves that they cannot change their, job, country of residence, area they reside in, partner or any other lifechanging decision. Of course, I cannot speak for anyone, but I question whether people resist change because they’re too fearful to walk an unknown path? Or is it because it seems that life consistently throws curveballs at you and doing that one extra thing will be exhausting. Or, I sometimes fear, people are absolute that their efforts are in vain and nothing really ever changes, so why bother? Granted, the older you become the more challenging it is to pivot and walk a new path. You’re right in thinking that it may take longer, your patience will be tested (and at times it might feel like your sanity), and yes, change does demand to step out of your comfort zone. But let me ask you this – if you’re unhappy in your current situation, then how truly comfortable are you? Don’t you owe it to yourself to live your best life now and for YOUR future?

When I decided to write my first novel, I simply had enough of my career playing second fiddle in the work place. Always, good enough to take orders, yet in spite of years of experience, never quite good enough to break the glass ceilings of senior management, hmmmm. My talents have the right the right to be seen by the world, just like everyone else’s. For nearly three years I have sacrificed evenings and weekends with friends and loved ones to make sure I achieve my novel’s daily word count required to manifest the change I deserve.

For those of you who think ‘I don’t need to change, I know what I know and I’m too old,’ then I want to challenge that. At Westminster City Council, a reverse mentoring scheme has been created to allow Black, brown and other ethnic minorities to ‘mentor’ white senior management. This isn’t an exercise to give career tips or an opportunity to share sob stories about career mishaps, the programme presents real opportunities for others to better understand what it is like to walk in the shoes of another human being. My mentee is a white, middle-aged director who was grammar school educated, lives in a lovely house in safe suburban Britain and is seamlessly achieving his career dreams. Good for him. No doubt, it would be understandable for this person to continue living in their middle-class bubble. Yet, my mentee is challenging himself to see if he has any unconscious biases and (you’ve guessed it) change. Whatever the outcome, whether he does or does not have bias, this journey we’ve both taken won’t be an easy one. However, if we’re both willing to confront uncomfortable truths and adjust our attitude and thought-processes, then we’ll both be better for it. After all, you can’t fight Goliath if you’re not in the arena.

If we cannot learn to be flexible in life, and pivot whenever change is needed, then how can any of us expect a better world for the younger generations? For us ‘older’ folks, we can be useful now. Change doesn’t have to be monumental, it’s the small steps that count. As I have reignited my passion for creative writing, I’ve started to change my attitude to other things also. I’m learning to recycle properly, making more effort to support Black-owned businesses and spend my precious coins with companies that support the environment and I’ll be volunteering to help children to love the art of reading and writing.

If we all start to take those small steps now, then the baton passed down to younger generations will be lighter and less of a burden to carry. Furthermore, we can take pleasure in the satisfaction of knowing that our best lives were lived because we made a decision to change.

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