Azizi Khalid

August 4, 2021

Comfort Crisis


"They have everything; what are they complaining about?" says the uncle in me.  One of the things that uncles like me struggle to understand the youth is their mental health. It amazes me how many are on anti-depression medication, especially as it gets closer to examination season.

But that may be the root of the problem. The problem of having everything. The comfort crisis.

By no fault of their own, this is the first generation of true instant gratification. From a very young age, they get everything they want — stat. Take, for instance, watching cartoons. Back then (the '80s and early '90s), TV only aired from 4 p.m. to midnight. And there is only one hour of cartoons per day. If you miss it, you miss it. There is no way to record a show (that came much later) or watch it on demand. Life goes on. We get used to the fact that life doesn't always go our way.

The same goes for music. We listen to what is on the radio. We like the song we listen to it, and if we don't like it, we do something else until the DJ plays a piece of music we like. 

But today, we get to watch every show we want at any time. If it is not on Netflix, it will be on Disney+. Can't find it on Disney+; it might be on Stan. Not on Stan? No problem, there is Binge. The choice is endless.

Music? Spotify will tailor the music to your taste. You get access to all the songs in the world—no more waiting. Life goes precisely as how you want it.

The education system has also changed to an on-demand style. You can't attend a lecture; it is ok; you can stream it later on the university's website. You are not ready to sit for an exam, defer it.

However, life is much bigger than Netflix and Spotify. As they grow up, they realise that there are so many things that are beyond their control. But they are not used to not getting what they want—or even waiting for it. They are not used to failing.

Is there a solution to this? Yes, there is. 

What we need is resilience. 

Once in a while, we need to get out of our comfort zone. As parents, we need to take our children out of the uber-luxury life that we live today. Give them tasks that have a high enough probability of failure and let them fail. We should not do helicopter-parenting — where we constantly monitor and help our children at every juncture of their life, hence not allowing them to fall. Let them fail, but do not let them give up. Learn from the failure and grow.

Saiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab reminded us over a millennia ago; "Be tough on yourself for good times don't last."

p.s: The picture above is of my daughter chopping wood for a fire on one of our camping trips.

Azizi Khalid
Making Islamic education fun at Qaswa House
Towards the Middle Path