Look, the world is a pretty fucked up place. That’s a fact; America has had almost 250 mass shootings in less than a year, Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister of the UK, gay marriage is still illegal in some countries, Malta is cutting down all its trees and building expensive apartments in their place… and some people still like Justin Bieber.
Before we begin, here are a few facts about me.
My name is Steffie. I am 23 years old. I used to be terrified of dogs. I have dyed my hair at least 12 different colours. I am severely asthmatic and a ball of anxiety. And I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.
I grew up on the Internet. And while I’m “old” enough to remember the struggles of words like “dial-up” and “designated computer time”, my life has been pretty much exposed to the rest of the world. Being born in 1996, I form part of a weird group of individuals who crossover from the Millennials to Gen Z. And we don’t exactly have a great rap with the previous generations. See below.
And whilst I do enjoy a good day (or three) of binge-watching Netflix and indulging in brainless reality shows, I wouldn’t call myself lazy. I think I actually work really hard. I graduated from university with an Honours degree in theatre, all the time while working on evenings and weekends, taking part in theatre performances and trying both locally and abroad, and dealing with some health concerns. And loads of my peers are doing way more than that, like starting their own companies, initiating peaceful protests, meeting the Queen, and speaking in front of the UN.
And yet despite all this, we all seem to be stuck at our parents’ home watching as our country falls to shit.
Our air quality is rubbish, we don’t recycle our rubbish, our government is probably (definitely) corrupt, housing is unaffordable, journalists are censored and actually murdered, women are murdered, women are raped, abortion is still illegal, gay men can’t (really) donate blood, buildings are literally collapsing around us… I could go on. But I don’t really want to.
The urge to pack up my things and move away has been festering inside me for a number of years
As I am sure it has with many people reading this now. It was planted inside me after I lived in Dublin for three months, but was sent into overdrive on October 16th 2017 when I found out that Daphne Caruana Galizia had been murdered.
The country was shocked and angry. We cried. We shouted. We protested. We pushed for answers. We called for help. But fast forward almost two years, and the same government is still in power, the same scandals are still being discussed, and we still don’t have the answers.
“When I was younger, we chained ourselves to Castille”
I guess unrest is always going to be a thing. The people aren’t always going to be OK with, you know, being controlled by a body of (predominantly) straight white men. My mum told me that back in the late 70s, a number of students had chained themselves to Castille to protest against the closing of the local medical school. 23 students were arrested on the day, and three were taken to hospital. Wild.
A few of weeks ago, Gen Z Club Card Holder Sasha Vella started a group called For OUR Trees
And organised a demonstration in an attempt to protect yet another cluster of trees from being uprooted in order to widen yet another road. And it definitely made an impact. At least, I thought it did. But then a new cluster of trees was marked for the chop. And now I’m just lost and angry and asthmatic.
Not to be the eternal optimist that I was unintentionally raised to be, it was pretty impressive to see how many young people turned up, hopeful and willing to voice their thoughts and protect the trees.
Honestly though, has it always been like this?
Because I remember growing up on an island that was supposedly loved by people all over. L-għira tal-Ewropa, as our Prime Minister would put it. We had great weather, we were happy and healthy, the cost of living was pretty affordable, and we were an island full of art and culture. I was so excited to grow up, move out and pursue a career in the flourishing arts scene. But now I can’t afford to leave my mummy’s house and the arts scene is being controlled by an ***allegedly*** corrupt government. And I don’t really know what to do about it.
I’m already predicting all the ‘armchair critic’ comments coming in – “if you don’t like it get up and do something about it!”. And I get it.
But – and I am asking this genuinely – what is there to do?
Protesting won’t push the government out. And even if it does, is there a better alternative available? I don’t own the resources or space to plant my own trees. I can’t create my own laws. I can’t force everyone to recycle. I can’t stop the corruption.
I’m a young adult who doesn’t know where she’ll be in the next two years and can’t get the future she wants by staying on the island. Until then, all I can do is make sure I do my bit; I speak out, I separate my waste, I carpool, I attend protests and meetings. And I do that with my peers and we try to convince the younger generations to do the same.
Maybe something will change. Maybe I’ll move to Ireland.
Actually, I’ll most definitely move to Ireland.
Until then, I remain asthmatic and anxious, living with my mummy and hoping that together we can make a change. Armchair critics, millennials, pensioners, vegans and academics. Together.