Let’s face it: It’s tough being young these days. The world is much more competitive than it ever was, and there are so many things that need to be done. Newspapers and television tell us what kind of people we should be and the kind of clothes we should wear. At the same time, we have to keep the values of our culture flying high. How does one find a balance between the two?

Add to this the dangers that lurk around corners. Some of them are pretty obvious, such as the importance of keeping to the right side of parents and teachers. Others are more devious: one can have an accident or worse, fall in love. This is to say nothing about other tragedies, like getting rejected in an interview, losing out on admissions to prestigious colleges, AIDS, pollution, restrictions on wearing jeans, teenage pregnancies.... the list is endless.

Who said that being a young person was an easy task? We know it isn’t. The canvas of a student’s life is filled with daily risks and uncertainties. Each brings us to the end of the world, well, almost. But the tragedy is that nobody understands that. What we need is a survival kit, something that tells us the kind of persons we should be and what we should be doing to succeed in life. No, we should not end up on a rope attached to a ceiling fan just because we can’t cope up. We have to be made of sterner stuff.

The pressures of studies and inter-personal interaction usually results in tension. One is beset by self-doubts and every small failure appears magnified. This leads to a feeling of being let down. Most people are able to bounce back and recover after a little while. In some cases, it may lead to depression. Affluent young people, of course, use the term to describe boredom or restlessness.

Real or clinical depression is a more serious thing. It may be marked by incapacity of work, thoughts of failure and death, fatigue and suicidal leanings. It results from disturbances in the brain’s neuro-chemistry and is a crippling disease.

Self-doubts are natural to a great extent and parents, while being supportive, should ensure that they are not overbearing. If you have negative feelings, or know of someone who is thus inclined, confide in someone you know. Contrary to popular feeling, friends and teachers will go out of the way to help you.

A hobby can drive away depression, keep you sane and give hours of pleasure. Yet, even though the number of activities have increased over the years, youngsters seem to have fewer hobbies.

Youngsters can develop hobbies for pleasure and profit. Collecting stamps, interior decoration, reading, gardening, fashion designing and writing are some of the common hobbies. Some of the more exotic hobbies could be to fly gliders, enrol at the local radio or television station for becoming a presenter, operating a ham radio. Of course, these depend on the kind of facilities available in your town.

Remember that watching television for long hours is not a hobby. You will lose out on many friends and experiences if you are stuck on television.

A hobby will add to your knowledge as also the kind of person you are. For example, if you are taking part in some activities, your self-confidence will undoubtedly improve.

As one grows, one begins to become aware of the opposite sex. One wants to be noticed and make friends. For its part, the media is relentless in projecting images of young people going around with someone of the opposite sex: the staple diet of films is a boy-girl relationship, while in advertisements, it seems that everything must be used to attract the opposite sex. Soap, toothpaste or talcum powder is not to be used for personal hygiene, but for the attention they may help in getting.