In a new democracy, it’s fair for us to want to build anew. To improve systems, processes, skills and build an economy that can take our country to new heights. We want to progress and create more opportunity for all, equally.
But what of our past and old systems that are still in place? Many would like to move on swiftly and welcome the new. But what of our pain? What of the layer of healing that must take place in order for us to move forward? When we move forward without healing our past, we are building on a landmine. Creating systems, businesses, mindsets, friendships and careers on ground that could explode at any minute. Before we can progress, we need to heal a generation – deeply, one step at a time.Understanding the past to change the future
Even the most optimistic and enthusiastic among us have been shaken by recent events in our country. The hope and faith we have in South Africa has taken a knock. And it’s because we’ve been forced to face the truth, and the truth of our pain. There’s a temptation to ignore this truth until the negativity subsides – a fairly common response to fear-based trauma. But this solution doesn’t truly serve us, and our frustration shows itself in unlikely ways. We see a disgruntled customer angrily shouting at a call centre agent, road rage at 7am, misplaced outrage in tweets and Instagram shares. Only through understanding our history can we begin to transform our future. And it begins with shedding that layer of hurt and allowing deep wounds to heal. Empowering each other and ourselves can set us on the path to wellbeing. Offering the youth the future they deserve
Understanding the roots of our emotions, perceptions, biases and thoughts helps us uncover why we have them in the first place. Recruitment, training and consulting company Sivuka Youth works with thousands of unemployed youth and newly hired employees, witnessing how these underlying feelings affect daily life. A young graduate who has worked hard at university and is now ready to start her working life struggles to find a first job. She feels angry and frustrated. In today’s climate, it’s natural for her to feel victimised by the state of the country, an economy she did not create or break down. But she has two choices:
- To suppress feelings of sadness and disappointment and push on in her job search, most likely with a bundle of unexpressed, unhealed emotions as she starts her career by grabbing the first job she’s offered.
- Or, to take some time to heal. To feel the pain and understand its roots so she can heal. And, while her feelings are personal, they also reflect the world around her. By taking a moment to consider her situation, she can move forward and, in time, follow the path that aligns with her values, beliefs, morals and career goals. She can choose to show up as the positive, talented and intelligent young woman she is, in a role that is meant for her and will bring her the abundance she deserves.
The second choice is one of self-accountability. The choice that says, “I am not my circumstances”. It is not the easy choice, but it’s the one that will heal this generation and the ones to follow. It is the choice that will see us leading change and making decisions that support our individual growth, as well as that of our communities.
Martin Luther King Jr said: “As my sufferings mounted, I soon realised that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation – either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” What else needs to happen?
One of the most beautiful things in our country is the bravery of our young people. Our youth are perpetually taking our country forward with their tenacity, resolution and sheer grit for a better future. And while it’s important to keep going, it’s also important to take a breath and ask for help. Our young people are faced with a plethora of challenges: the unknown within a pandemic, a changing economy and an uncertain future. Sivuka’s youth programmes help young people navigate today’s complex environment, giving them the tools and support they need to become confident, well-adjusted individuals in life and in the workplace. By healing this generation, one person at a time, we’re building a future on more solid ground, setting ourselves up for long-term stability and success.
Healing is central to every step we take as individuals, as communities, as organisations. Your inner work will give your voice clarity, your career purpose and your work meaning. We did not choose our history, our trauma, or our circumstances, but we can choose our future. And, if we’re healing a generation one step at a time, it needs to be holistic. Empowered youth with no place to grow leaves us stuck once again. In order to achieve real transformation, government needs to step in, and public and private enterprises need to adapt, to provide young people with the opportunities they deserve. If we work together and tackle challenges from the ground up, anything is possible.