Peeling youngsters away from their daily state of mind to discuss what can almost be philosophy is difficult, but when you manage, many witty thoughts and interesting opinions are there to be found.
When I asked the question of the article, the first notion was that it’s like asking: “What came first? The chicken or the egg?” It made me giggle at how true it is and how it didn’t cross my mind while preparing for the discussion. It didn’t stop there; the youngsters proceeded to ask me, “what does it mean, to be whole?” I simply asked, “what does it mean to you?”
It will surprise you as it surprised me that their answers were similar to Herman Hesse’s quote, as seen in the article of Hans Leonhard Kõrgesaar: “Being whole is a feeling, and it means being happy and in a good mood” (Sander, 9 years old). In the first parts of the discussion with younger youth, you can understand from the answers that the feeling of wholeness is a raw emotion. Once that feeling of happiness is present, participation is a sure thing; the fact that they participated in this conversation because they felt good that day.
As the conversation moved on to older youth, especially those that are active in their community and by definition are the great example of a participant youth, I was not as surprised or baffled. As a youth worker, I understand how maturity moves through youngsters. The active youth group answered that being whole means being skilled and competent at something and thus being more able to participate in their community. They said that this is why they are a part of their active youth group (Nõmme Aktiivsed Noored).
The answers and thereby the meaning moved towards career and professional wholeness, which is a natural development of youngsters when they approach college years. A common theme for this age group is understanding their direction in life.
Through the conversations it was reassuring to see the natural learning process of wholeness and participation as an essential part of life—understanding that the feeling of wholeness can be worked on and understood by youngsters. It also shows the growing necessity of supporting young people’s mental health as they grow to realise these feelings and to understand what to do with them, especially as youth workers.
The cover image was generated using AI.