Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Opportunity is farcical.

The best thing about being a youth today? First of all, ‘Best thing’ is a relative term. What might be best for me, will not be best for others. And thinking that being a youth today means sunshine, rainbows and pony tea parties is not only grotesquely inaccurate, it is also brain-meltingly cliché.

Terms used in this post:
then – our parents’ era. The one where you could get a kuih for 10 sen and nasi lemak for 30.

now – Our age, obviously. Where beautiful things are the most expensive.

Let’s take the most quoted differences between then and now. Higher education is much more accessible, and so is healthcare. I do not deny it. Now, the word opportunity best sums up the age we live in. Youth’s today are fed with optimism, we are supposedly in the age where everything is possible, if we believe, and work hard towards it.

Well, let me tell you something. My mother thinks my legs are too short, and she blames it on my not eating well. I retort by blaming the gene pool. I’m the same height as my mother, and slightly shorter than my father. Her counter argument is always this:

Younger generation = more fortunate

Are we? I still think that we are constrained by our gene pools, and nothing other than a genetic mutation, anomaly, or surgery will make me taller than I’m supposed to be. Now you’re thinking, ‘but what about improved nutrition?, technology?’ Now that helps of course, but it sure doesn’t happen overnight! Maybe in the next 4 generations.[1]

Now, on higher education. Face it, youths now want the best education, in the world’s top ranking universities worldwide. And here’s a reminder: Malaysian universities are ranked, well, basically nowhere important. It’s not that we are anal, and stubborn – though I do maintain that these traits do come in handy when reinterpreted as determination. It is because we have been fed with the hope of opportunity. So much so, that when we don’t get what we want, it is a hard smack from reality.

One of my best friends got rejected by 4 UK universities although she can afford it, and I got a conditional offer from the University of Edinburgh but can’t afford to go. Either way, it is difficult to finally realize that what we have been told is a lie.[2]

Imagine there are two barrels. Let’s make them wooden wine barrels. One is filled with opportunities of youths through the ages, the other with challenges. The amounts are constant. But their compositions, different. Youths now face equal amounts of challenges, and, I believe, equal amounts of opportunities as well. They are just not specifically the same. How people manipulate the contents of these barrels will determine if the wine at the end of the day is sweet, bittersweet, sour, or downright rotten.

Public note: Please dispose unused barrels responsibly. Empty barrels left in the open are a potential breeding ground for dengue mosquitoes. And I’ve already had dengue twice.

[1] Somewhat related to Family and Friends
[2] Somewhat related to Ambition and Success


  1. Oh praise the Lord.
    I found another person who believes that we are no more fortunate than the previous generations. ^_^

    Name's Annette. Nice to meet you !

  2. to think of it u really do have got a point. :)

  3. Hi Annette, we are a minority, unfortunately, haha.

    And Alya, you understood! Joy :)