This one is going to be a personal one.
Hi. This is Bilge. Some of you may know me, some of you don’t. And probably, none of you really care who I am. Regardless, let me introduce myself. I was born in 1994 which makes me a 28 and a half years old female and a millennial. An anxious millennial, to be exact. One out of millions out there struggling to find their place on this earth. -Believe me, we do try hard. –
I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder a couple of years back when I was 25, the same age my father and my mother had their first house, first car and have already been working for some time with stable incomes. Me? Well, I was trying to complete my master’s degree which I decided to pursue in Italy. I decided to move abroad when I realized that every single day I have spent in my home country, every social interaction with people who are out of my close circle were making me feel suffocated. I didn’t feel like I’ve belonged. I had different ideas about the world around me, different dreams to follow, different goals to pursue. Not because I was a special snowflake, no. But because my generation was always told that it was us that could change the world that our grandparents and parents did not really, you know, worry about. -Don’t get me wrong. I know that I am one of those very lucky people whose family was always able to afford private schools, private tutoring etc. But I guess, being privileged doesn’t really make your anxiety go away. –
I remember sitting across my psychiatrist in his little room, bawling my eyes. “What is wrong?” What was wrong? Nothing. I was living in Italy. I was pursuing a master’s on a field I was very passionate about. I had a great family who supported me through everything and all. I had made great friends in Italy. According to my relatives, I was a bit, you know, spoiled. I had everything offered to me in golden plates throughout my entire life. Yet, I was anxious and depressed all the time. Then, what was wrong? Everything. Everything was wrong.
After graduation I have watched my close friends being offered these entry level roles in these glorious corporate firms that -apparently- every new graduate dreams to work for. I have seen how happy and proud they were to land these jobs, fresh out of the university, and of course I was proud of them too. I have also seen that entry level roles come with a great responsibility. I have watched them losing 10 kgs in two months due to stress, taking showers at the gym showers – gym membership offered as a benefit from the company, of course! – because there is no time to go home to take a shower, being diagnosed with stress-induced urticaria. I have seen that great responsibility means great sacrifice.
However, I have also seen that, not every great responsibility comes with a great payment. I have watched my friends barely being able to pay their rents, their bills and having enough money left to feed themselves. I remember the dreams we had as high school kids, how we would have our own houses close to each other so we would be living together. But in separate houses, you know. Like how best friends were supposed to. We were right and wrong. We were right because yes, my friends ended up living very close to each other. Maybe a bit too close. In the rooms across each other, sharing a flat. I have watched my close friends moving in together, renting flats in pairs or in three. Not because they remembered the dreams wrong but because none of them was paid enough to afford a rent, bills, and other expenses by themselves. I have learned that, if you work hard enough, pull all-nighters consecutively, juggle multiple projects at the same time -at the expense of your mental and psychical health, duh! – the wage you earn will be enough to survive, and you should be grateful for that.
So, I reply to my psychiatrist: Nothing, really. Nothing is wrong.
Of course, I have not only been following my friends. That would have been very psycho of me, wouldn’t it? I have also been following the news about climate change. Did you know that in 2020, from 2010 to 2019 was recorded the hottest decade in the last 140 years with 2016 being the warmest. Well, guess what? There is a high, -and I mean very high- 93% to be precise, likelihood of at least one year between 2022-2026 becoming the warmest on record and dislodging 2016 from the top ranking. Is that all? Of course, not! According to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update the chance of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being higher than the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93.
Look, I was born in the cold eastern part of Anatolia on a cold Sunday morning in February and grew up there. When the temperature goes above 28 Celsius degrees, I refuse to function. I get psychically sick. I just hate it. The idea of the weather getting warmer and warmer is a bit too much for me to handle. I’m scared of climate change only for personal reasons, you see? Not because hotter temperatures increase drought which causes deserts to expand, agricultural lands to reduce, or leaving people face the threat of not having enough water to survive on a regular basis. Not because the ice sheets melt causing to raise sea levels threatening coastal and island communities. Not because extreme weather events might be the reason behind a global rise in hunger and poor nutrition. And definitely not because I might have to tell my grandchildren that the white fluffy animals named polar bears did exist when I was young and despite popular belief, they were not actually left-handed.
What is wrong?
I mean it cannot be the fact that both the corporate world and climate change are teaming up against me.
So, nothing. Nothing really.