The Struggles of Being a Young Person in Macedonia

What does the youth struggle with? What do they want? Where did our spirit go?
The opportunities and resources conditioning young people in Macedonia (and anywhere, really) are scarce and inadequate – they are seemingly present, and they are within our reach…but in reality, they are far away. On the other hand, what we need would be simple to achieve if we didn’t lack self-honesty and strong values. That’s why we are so easily manipulated and that’s why we can’t have the nice things we want in life.
We are here and we think we have a voice, but we don’t. We are actors in a play that constantly changes, but the main idea is always the same. At this particular moment, I am singer and a writer, and that is the role I have in the play called society. But, this changes. I see myself as nothing more than a part of the youth. And yet, the people here in Macedonia can quickly make you turn bitter and hateful. I am a part of youth, but the only exception is – I believe I can make some sort of change, and I attempt to do it every single day – that is an immense struggle many of us have felt upon themselves. And while it’s comforting to know and feel that you’re not alone, I feel like the benefit of that knowledge is taken away from us by the very thing that is supposed to turn us into creative and hopeful creatures – our awful country.

Why are we discouraged?
Well, when it comes to us and our role in society, history has taught us many times that that our intellectual capacity and energy are the only things that can really make a change. But the older people don’t look at it like that anymore – its almost as if they have forgotten what being young feels like. How big our emotions are. How strong we think we are, and how scared we actually are. How we think we can conquer the world. Our hopes, our dreams. How stubborn we are. How devoted we can be when it comes to things that we feel with our whole beings. The older people, including our parents, think we are spoiled, or corrupted, or stupid; that we are idealists, that we think we know it all. Their “life experience” is the only thing that matters to them – anyone who tries to deny that is disrespectful and doesn’t have a right to an opinion. We are being marginalized every single day, and it is draining our energy and killing our spirits – and that is very saddening, because our ideas are the only things that are still uncorrupted and pure in this mess of a country.

The other thing that is discouraging is the economic situation here. The pay for every possible job you could imagine is extremely low, our parents are working at miserable workplaces with a miserable pay. So, naturally, we start working as early as 15 years old. You can find easily find high school and university students working in a café, trying to earn a few bucks so they can maybe, hopefully, go out that weekend. It is a struggle to make ends meet here. There is a big, big gap between the highest and the lowest layer of society, which creates frustration in the ones who have to work for their own money and balance working and studying and being socially active…and staying sane, while the others have everything they need without lifting a finger. And, those people are the same ones that put you down. They are the ones who don’t have any opinions about any relevant topics. The ones who laugh at you for trying to create something of lasting value, or for speaking your mind. The youth that is humble and thankful does not have a voice, and the ones who do all face the same fate – a brutal slap across the face and a discouraging realization that not a single thing they do will be recognized, or god forbid appreciated. This creates a void that just keeps getting wider and deeper with time.

We are taught to keep our voices down, especially young women. The only issue is – we don’t know how to do that. The moment you realize what you want to say is the moment you discover yourself. We don’t know ourselves, we only know the picture we paint for others.

The void is present, and it’s deep – but we should focus on filling it. The void is in each and every one of us, and we should fill it in ourselves individually. We are not brave enough. We are scared to use our voices – we don’t even know how loud we can be and how many inspiring words our hearts carry inside.
We struggle with expression and with being different. But then again, some of us know how to pour the contents of their souls in the right places. We know what we need and when we need it.

What matters to youth?
Our stories matter. Our solidarity matters. Words matter. Music matters. Poetry matters.
The air we breathe, our education, our leaders. Art and style matter. Free expression. Our ideas, our confidence, our crafts.

I personally struggle with expressing myself clearly, whether I’m writing lyrics to a song or having a conversation with someone; there are so many thoughts flowing through my mind simultaneously. Sometimes, I can’t seem to find the right words to say or the time to free them. Life flows quickly, and so does time. You need to recognize and use the right moment, but more importantly, you need to use every moment. This is not limited to young people in Macedonia. This is a problem everywhere. Only through solidarity will we be able to overcome it.

Free expression of young people is the future of everything. Even though the future is not really what it used to be, I believe that each and every one of us can contribute to a better society – a dreamy place where you feel can safe and understood, and I hope that one day we will achieve that.

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