*This is a Liberty Living competition entry.
1. Sponsor a dog!
…because 2018 is the Year of the Dog! That’s right – on Friday, February 16th, the vibrant festivities of Chinese New Year commences. Regardless whether you celebrate this momentous occasion or not, sponsoring a dog will brighten up a furry friend’s day as well as yours. A quick Google search will give you hundreds of hits: Blue Cross for Pets, Support Dogs, Oldies Club… and that’s just to name a few of these wonderful shelters.
2. Read a book – no, textbooks don’t count
Tell me: when was the last time you’ve read a book for leisure? When you’ve properly indulged in the pages of a beguiling novel until 3am because you keep telling yourself, “Just until the end of this chapter!” and you become overly attached to fictional characters? Yep – ages ago, right? No more I Don’t Have Time’s and I Have So Much Other Academic Stuff To Read’s, because let’s face it: you probably could use that 20 minutes of mindless scrolling through Instagram’s discover page for reading instead.
3. Vlog; filmmaker status not required
Because despite the constant dilemma of being broke, university life is too invaluable to forget – and no, you don’t need to start marketing a YouTube channel brand and do obscure MacBook giveaways for subscribers (do people actually even receive them?). It is integral you do this for the right reasons, though. The very definition of being an entertainer has radically fluctuated in the past couple years – with some ex-Viners attempting to continue their careers on YouTube as ‘influencers’ and prank videos being entirely staged or highly disrespectful in some aspect, it’s easy to feel like you must live by the stats. However, that being said, there are definitely some incredible YouTubers out there who possess no ulterior motive; they simply create videos, because they like creating videos. And as a university student, this is an integral mindset to have – pursue something, because you want to.
So, even if it’s creating ridiculous, badly-edited iPhone filmed videos (an example of my terrible iMovie skills below) to share with friends & family, you’ll thank yourself later; seeing how you’ve changed over the course of your degree will possibly be one of the most dramatic transformations in your life.
4. Write letters
Because surprisingly, Snapchat isn’t enough. The hindrance for most is, “Ugh, but I have get a stamp and posting it costs money!”; but, trust me – it’s much less of a hassle once you’ve done it once. Taking a little time out of your day to handwrite a letter to your friends in another city, or a whole other country, is simultaneously nostalgic and exciting; I cannot describe the feelings of delight when you receive an envelope from an unfamiliar country written in very familiar handwriting.
5. Start a campaign or a charity
We are millennials. The generation who downright exploited that shirtless scene in “The Last Jedi” resulting in numerous Facebook notifications of being tagged in yet another Ben Swolo meme. The generation who made the panoramic way of seasoning steaks with salt absurdly viral, catapulting Nusr-Et Steakhouse’s Turkish butcher sensation Nusret Gökçe, known more colloquially as #saltbae, into Instagram fame (he has close to 11 million Instagram followers – no, that is not a joke). And we are the cheeky generation who, in response to Twitter user Makenna posting a photo of herself cleaning President Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star under the caption “Nothing but respect for MY president #RaisedRight”, didn’t choose the lazier route by responding with some variation of “You support a racist” or “That’s so dumb” which would’ve done little but further exacerbate the exact polarised hatred we’re trying to back-pedal from, but instead, showcased millennial ingenuity at its finest: taking a blatant patriotic claim like Makenna’s tweet, and memifying it to reveal its inherent absurdity – because Shrek for President, anyone? Britney Spears? You name it.
Yes, we are millennials. We’re an erratic bunch who are seen as politically disengaged, more focused on materialistic values, and less concerned about helping the larger community. People may see self-entered, but I see individualism. Perhaps we’re oddballs fuelled by ridiculous memes, but it isn’t mutually exclusive with intellect; we’re more open-minded, more liberal, and more receptive to new ways of living. It’s those who make the news in stunningly stupid manners that people will grasp onto and project the assumed negative stereotype on the rest of us.
Millennials are doing selfless, incredible things every-day, including revolutionising charitable giving. We’ve drifted slightly from institutional giving to philanthropic organisations, towards positioning ourselves as part of the solution instead through volunteering and lending our own social networks to a cause we believe in. See Tom Holland and his brothers, for instance – they launched their own charity, “The Brother Trust” in July last year.
So, if you feel strongly about something a cause, take it on yourself to begin a campaign or a charity; it’ll easily be one of the most humbling, insightful experiences. Especially as college students constantly under stress and pressure, you’ll be incredibly grateful to give back, when perhaps you felt you had nothing to give at all.