By Dr Janice Lo Yueh Yea
Youths (between the ages of 15 and 24 years) may be on the path to understanding their life’s purpose or they may feel completely lost and unsure of what to do.
Youths think deeply about identity and mortality. They are entirely entitled to think about that. These are important questions. A sense of purpose in life, especially in the digital age, is beneficial to youth’s mental health.
But how can we, as parents and university lecturers, assist youth in finding purpose in life?
The question “what is your purpose?” or “what is your passion?” may not be the greatest way to assist them in starting down a meaningful life path that is fulfilling and sustainable.
As a result, assuming that youth are already aware of their passions and goals is unrealistic. They do not have sufficient experience yet to figure out what is beneath it.
If you are a parent or a university lecturer working with youth who are still looking for their passion and purpose, consider these suggestions as a starting point.
Look out for the spark
The idea of finding their passion puts too much pressure on them. Instead, start a conversation that encourages youth to consider their motivations for liking certain things, their strengths and values, and how these relate to potential vocations and life aspirations.
By pointing out their interests, parents and university lecturers might inspire them to consider how they can transform their interests such as reading mystery books, painting, math, going on hikes, or working at an animal shelter into a career they genuinely care about.
Communicate your goals
Studies have shown that youth are more enthusiastic and hopeful than their older counterparts. Youth typically have many aspirations and dreams for the future.
Although we may be inspired by their optimism and hope, we should remind them that to survive and exist, one must generate income. While you undoubtedly want them to enjoy their work and discover their purpose, finding the right balance between happiness and realism can be difficult, but necessary.
Listen to youth voices
The truth is that youth often have different aspirations for themselves than we do. Likewise, they each have their unique perspectives to offer, just as we each live our own life. They require guidance but never want to be treated like a doll. They seek equality.
Although we as parents and university lecturers want the best for them, their path may not be what we had in mind. Talk about it openly with them, take a step back as they mature into adults, and make an effort to be supportive. We cannot determine what their goals are.
Do not forget to reflect
Each person contributes something special to the world. Encourage youth to consider their upbringing and how it affects their future.
Youth should hone their goal-setting abilities, self-awareness, personal agency, voice, and capacity for reflection and response to criticism. Whatever path they take, self-reflection will be crucial and an asset for the nation.
Dr Janice Lo Yueh Yea is Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Malaya.