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Niesha is 19 years old, from Belfast, and is studying politics and criminology. She reflects on young people’s situation during the global pandemic and on the omnipresent expectation to be ‘perfect’, as well as sharing some thoughts on how social media can both help and harm us during this difficult time.

“During these challenging conditions in the global pandemic, the world and people surrounding us face daily confusion, insecurity, loneliness and uncertainty.

Everyone, individually, experiences a different sort of isolation, within the same lockdown rules. No household has the exact same routine, and no person has the exact same mindset as their neighbour.

These times cause debate upon debate, what do we need to do to keep ourselves sane? Should I be achieving my goals now? Should I be in better health now more than ever? These are a selection of questions that only we can ask, and only answers we can give to ourselves. There’s always been a desired idea of perfection in people’s lives. Being the most successful you can be, the most in-shape version of yourself, or a need to prove your worth to someone watching snippets of your life through a screen. I think it’s important to remember productivity doesn’t define self-worth, even more so now in a global pandemic. 

Niesha Kelly speaking during a UK Youth Parliament session

Niesha Kelly

No one in this lifetime has experienced an outbreak of this kind of virus, so no one can informatively dictate what you should be using this time for or what is best for ourselves in these conditions, as in reality, no one truly knows themselves. Alongside a pressure of peers or familiar faces on social media, I believe there’s an underlying pressure from corporations and influencers to buy their products or live their lifestyle, and have a “you need this more than ever now” type of attitude, which many people buy into because if they feel someone else has it then they need it too. I believe social media has helped in many ways for this pandemic, giving people connections and staying close to those we love most. But it’s also tainted our reality and blurred a vision of who we are as individuals.

I believe we need to start helping people to accept reality for what it is, that people don’t need to have perfect routines or have everything worked out for when lockdown is lifted.

It’s difficult to be certain about your situation in a time of global uncertainty. It’s key to remember that some people’s conditions right now aren’t as simplistic as others may think, so it can be impossible to achieve all these goals, and while no one says you have to achieve them, the pressure in our mindsets is that if we don’t, we are failures.

We should use this time for what we want to do with it under the circumstances given, not because we fail if we don’t otherwise. 

If there’s something to put our energy into pressurising, it should be the government, as in this situation there is no ‘politics aside’. Everything is political whether people want it to be or not, and to challenge the government in these situations, in order to support not only ourselves but the key workers keeping the world afloat.” 

Youth story by Niesha Kelly submitted via Eurodesk Partner, British Youth Council (BYC).


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