Wake up. Eat. Go to School. Eat. Study. Eat. TV. Sleep. Rinse and Repeat.
For a number of years, this was the epitome of my daily routine. Occasionally, on those rarest of rare days where I felt especially optimistic, a few minutes worth of ambitious ideas for DIY projects would flood my mind – but nothing more. In most cases, though, changes to my typically benign schedule mainly involved the addition of a little physical activity here and there, or another form of entertainment in lieu of the television.
“Tomorrow,” I often told myself, convinced that putting off seemingly challenging tasks for the time being would result in a fierce desire to tackle them the following day. Eventually, this word became all-encompassing, seeping into every aspect of my life – socially, academically, you name it – until it turned into a mantra of mine.
In times of despair, an uttering of “Tomorrow” would provide me reassurance. In times of distress, solace, and in boredom, this word gave me optimism that better things were still yet to come. But growing up, in the face of so many unique adversities, never in my wildest dreams did I dare dream of actually doing.
Or perhaps I did. But even then, it was to wait until…tomorrow.
The very idea of taking matters into my own two hands and addressing them head-on seemed daunting, nearly impossible even. After all, isn’t there someone else out there who can fix the world’s problems? What can I, an ordinary tween, contribute, anyway? These very thoughts plagued my worldview, unapologetically acting as justifications for my indifference and passivity when it came to practically any issue you can think of.
“Tomorrow,” I vowed, “not today.”
It wasn’t until I got to middle school that I began to notice the ‘finer details’, largely thanks to my improved Internet research abilities, my exposure to various actions taken by a wider range of school clubs, and a few particularly influential teachers.
It was then I realized that I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting idly by when the lives and/or livelihoods of my entire generation – and the one after it – are at risk. It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t. But starting from when I took that very first leap of faith, I have had the immense privilege to witness firsthand the impacts over the years of what can happen when one decides to dream AND do, because the two are not mutually exclusive.
To my fellow youth out there feeling hopeless or insignificant, know that you are not alone. I too used to harbour those same sentiments. But now I urge you to channel those feelings into tangible action. Find causes to feel passionate about. Then, find ways to make a positive difference. Heck, even find others just like you to embark on the journey together.
We cannot continue to find excuses and push environmental issues to the bottom of our agenda. They aren’t a problem for ‘tomorrow’. They beckon for our attention now. I do not have to wait until I become a leader of tomorrow to do something if I choose to become a leader of today.
Procrastination is not the solution to the world’s troubles.
Today. Not tomorrow.
Written by: Alice Cheng