Putting on a Brave Face Amidst a World of Uncertainty

The idea of planning your life in today’s day and age seems to bring about more fear than excitement. After all, we have 18 months to reverse climate change, the housing market is at an all-time high and minimum wage jobs are beginning to require a bachelor’s degree. How do we stay determined to accomplish our goals in the face of such threats to a sustainable future?

The three main stressors focused on are the environment, the economy, and the future of our education, respectively. These three “E’s” are areas that involve an immense amount of pressure for most people, but particularly those evolving from the life of a care-free teenager into adulthood and all the responsibilities and problems it has to offer. Once we graduate, we are thrown into a world where we will be increasingly affected by the three E’s. Thus, it is in our best interest to understand the current state of these stressors, the problems they pose for our future, and most importantly; how to dive head-first into the world without letting fear and uncertainty limit you.

Environment

It's incredibly frustrating that a majority of responsibility for climate change and pollution lies in the hands of international corporations, with only 100 companies being responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. It leaves us with a feeling of helplessness and lack of control surrounding our future. With the discourse on reversing climate change prevalent over the past few years, it may also leave us with an abundance of stress.

Economy

Not only do environmental issues spark fear and uncertainty, but competition within the economy have young people stressing about problems that have not even arisen in their lives yet. To put it into perspective, housing prices in Toronto in the 1970s averaged a mere $30,426 ($190,388 in today’s amount). In 2014, the average price increased to $566,696. That is nearly triple the growth that has been seen over the course of a few decades, and there is no sign of a downward trend in the housing market any time soon. Housing prices are rising at twice the speed of inflation and wage increases, which makes it hard to keep up.

Education

With the foundation of solid education, we should be able to afford the prices that come with our economic climate by the time we graduate – right? Turns out that may not be the case. Canada has a youth unemployment rate of 11.2% as of 2019, despite having 56.7% of 25- to 64-year-olds completing college or university. The reality is, it's much more difficult for people to find steady careers following the completion of post-secondary education right now. There is an increasing amount of students choosing to fulfill bachelor’s degrees, which has led to never-before-seen levels of competition among young people today. With an influx of millennials who have all been proven equipped for their field of study, there is an unfortunate number of graduates left scurrying for entry-level jobs.

How Do We Feel Less Uncertain?

These statistics are undoubtedly discouraging for those of us who have yet to graduate, find a career, buy a home and start a family. What could possibly be the answer to feeling less terrified in the wake of all of these important matters? The answer comes from a concept in psychology called locus of control.

Locus of control is “an individual’s belief system regarding the causes of his or her experiences and the factors to which that person attributes success or failure." There are two categories: internal and external. If an individual has an internal locus of control, they believe that they have full power over their lives. They are more motivated and expect to succeed in life, which makes them more likely to learn. On the other hand, an individual with an external locus of control believes that they are completely subject to circumstance and thus less likely to learn or attribute success or failure to their own efforts.

How does this relate to issues regarding the three E’s? Well, the world is only as great as your mindset. Trying to understand and fix such complex issues may begin to tire you out. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to prepare for the future on an individual level. Gear your thoughts and beliefs towards an internal locus of control, and you’ll hope for the best but prepare for the worst–you can’t go wrong. For example, tell yourself: “I have the power to help the environment, so I’m going to walk to class instead of driving!” or, “As long as I work hard, I have the power to achieve my career goals.” Research shows that individuals with an internal locus of control do better in school, get better paying jobs, are more satisfied with their jobs, handle stress well and are more achievement-oriented.

The future can spark fear in young people today and may have an impact on the way you view the world. The best way to combat such large issues is to change your mindset towards believing you are in complete control of your future. It may take a little while to master at first, but it will make you happier and more successful in the long run!