There’s no denying that the pandemic has taken a toll on our physical and mental health, as well as general productivity. This is especially true in the case of teenagers and young adults. According to a survey organized by UNICEF in Bulgaria, teenagers felt twice as fearful and anxious, thrice as disappointed, four times as lonely, and five times as irritated during the lockdown compared to the pre-pandemic period. Another study conducted by UNICEF revealed that 46% of adolescents reported a lack of motivation to engage in activities they previously loved.
Despite the overall sense of dispiritedness that surrounded them, plenty of teenagers managed to accomplish incredible things from the comfort of their homes. From landing internships and freelance gigs to building online communities as influencers and content creators, and even launching their businesses, their stories are truly awe-inspiring. What’s most intriguing about this is how they managed to adapt to their surroundings in such a short period, leveraging the fact that they belonged to the most tech-savvy generation to exist. In an attempt to understand their experiences and journey better, I spoke to a few such friends.
“When I started posting my design gigs on Fiverr, I was scared of not being taken seriously because of my age. However, I soon realized that my work spoke for me. The majority of my clientele did not care about my age or qualifications as long as they got what they needed”, says Apoorva, a graphic designer. She channeled her love of aesthetics and her eye for detail into making digital illustrations, posters, and printable templates. In her own words, the process of creating those beautiful illustrations was a reward in itself – and the monetary benefit was merely an additional perk.
Vaishnavi, on the other hand, had a pretty simple intention when she started her content writing journey. She states, “My parents denied buying me an iPhone, so I decided I’d earn and gift it to myself. I love the fact that I don’t have to ask them for money every time I go out, and I can splurge on that super cool pair of shoes.” Ah, living the dream life indeed.
In Rahul’s case, out of boredom rose an interest to explore different domains. “I figured that if I was learning a new skill and working on projects, might as well get paid for it. That’s when I stumbled into the world of freelancing. Initially, it was tough finding clients who trusted a teenager enough to give the responsibility of building a website in his hands. However, when the first client gave me a 5-star service rating, others started lining up. Being a Computer Science Engineering student, my experience in web development will also add value to my profile.”
According to Suchit, there’s no way you can expect to see great results unless you’ve spent a considerable amount of time learning and refining your knowledge and skills. As a stock market and cryptocurrency trader, he believes it’s important to take calculated risks. When asked to elaborate on his experience, he says, “It was one of those random 2 a.m. decisions that you take to get your life back on track, except this time I didn’t give up on it the next day. Initially, my parents supported me and provided the capital I needed to start investing- but I ended up losing all of it. I would take breaks from investing to learn about the market in a better way, only to come back and lose all the money I’d invested. I barely spent time with my friends or family for a couple of months. And this might sound lame, but I got my inspiration from Instagram reels. I remember staying up all night when I started trading in crypto because the market runs 24/7, unlike traditional stock markets. The worst part was having to manage my studies alongside this, which wasn’t easy at all. Ten months later, I now make way more money than the average teenager. I contributed 17 lakhs INR when my dad bought his car, and I’m saving up to buy another one too. The best part is seeing my parents happy and proud. Trust me, that adrenaline rush when you realize how far you’ve reached is out of this world.” How I wish this were an offline conversation, so I could see the spark in his eyes while narrating the story to me.
We all encounter unforeseen circumstances in our lives, and it’s up to us how we react to them. In the end, we write our own stories. All these teenagers looked at the lockdown as an opportunity and made the best use of their time and resources, which is something we should all strive for. Not all side hustles will end up flourishing into actual careers, but they can provide teens with a sense of independence and security, and you never know, maybe exploring your passions will open up a new world of opportunities. That being said, all of us fight different battles, and our victories are nowhere similar. As Dorothy Height said, “Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition, he or she has overcome to reach their goals.”