Posted: 23 September 2019

Fear of the unknown: 17 year old shares her thoughts on the future

Our Good Childhood Report 2019 revealed that almost a quarter of a million children in the UK are unhappy with their lives. 

Whilst many children are unhappy with friendships and school, they also expressed concerns about their personal future. One third of 10 to 17 year olds worry over whether they'll have enough money in the future, and more than a quarter worry about having a job.

Before Ella, 17, went back to school, we asked her how she was feeling about her future...

Fear of the unknown

2 weeks. That’s all I have left. 2 WEEKS. 2 weeks until the dreaded return to my final year at college: ‘adulting’ season begins. Gulp. Can you hear me shudder?

There’s nothing worse than that night before, the pit of your stomach filling with a tornado of anxiety - a virtually sleepless night tumbling around in excessive worry of all that’s yet to come. I’ve got so much to do this year and I am so cripplingly scared that I have formally decided to avoid thinking about it. Or I’ll cry - a lot.

The pressure is real

The most upsetting part of this particular time in our lives is that we’re consistently waiting for things to get better. It’s like we accept the mundanity of our current lives as we know there’s hopefully good things to come. Of course, there always will be - but isn’t it sad that we feel we have to endure constant struggle and stress in what’s supposed to be the prime of our lives in order to get there? Like we have to achieve happiness? It baffles me that we’ve accepted this as normal- when it’s so not.

We are settling with the stress. We are working part-time. We are learning. We are doing extra curriculars. We are starting coursework. We are revising. We are driving (well, trying to). We are going out with old friends, new friends. We are quite simply: Doing. It. All.

On top of all that, for us young ones- we are choosing. I don’t think I ever could’ve prepared myself for so many decisions. And luckily for me, decision making just might be my worst trait. Ever.

'overwhelmingly isolating'

As strange as it seems, all of this decision making can accidentally wrap you up into a big ball of loneliness; ironic, really, considering we’re all in the exact same boat. But when it’s just you, alone, making some of what may be the most important decisions you’re ever going to make, it feels overwhelmingly isolating. Because nobody can decide for you. We’re ‘adults’ now.

I can feel the pressure, sitting on my chest like a tonne of bricks. It’s painful and draining and unhealthy and feels completely unavoidable- and at some point, it’s got to stop.

How? You ask. How can we escape a pressurised societal system that traps us in solitude whilst still achieving what is expected of us? Impossible, you may say. Perhaps it isn’t.

An escape of the impossible

I believe making our way through this endless jungle of a year is only going to occur smoothly if we decide to put ourselves first and foremost, start living a little. Believing in the dreaming, the freedom of teenage years, the imagination and the spontaneity of growing up. Because it really can be fun if we let it. If we let go. If we stopped judging ourselves and one another for this constant goal of perfection: rather, just letting one another be. 

So, I have changed my mind.

The most important thing we’re doing? We are trying. So hard. To better ourselves, our futures; and we’re trying the hardest we’ve tried in our entire lives.

I can say on behalf of myself and every young person who feels sucked into the pressure, that we are actively making mistakes whilst trying to live freely. We may be expected a lot of, by ourselves and others, but the only thing we can learn to do is treat ourselves better, with compassion: realise we can only do the best we can do. We need to see each other’s difficulties, offer solutions, acknowledge our tribulations- let one another just be. Be kind.

As long as we have dreams, what more can we do?

Young people like Ella experience a lot of pressure at a young age. On top of their concerns about appearance, friendships and school, they worry what their future is going to look like.

We need to listen to young people to help them overcome the challenges of modern childhood and face their future with confidence and hope.

It's time to show young people they matter. Pledge your support and let them know.


By Ella

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