Column Emma: Mindset

Standing up for yourself to address injustice. Is that complaining? Or dedication?

‘Each generation has something that is worse than the previous generation. That’s life. You can keep complaining (justifiably so or not, I’ll leave that to you), or you could stay true to yourself and buckle down to work hard on your life. This isn’t a reproach, just a mindset.’

This was one of the responses I received to an Instagram message I posted urging people to make themselves heard at the compensation protest last Saturday. In that post, I stated that the suggested 100 euros in compensation per student felt like a kick when I’m down. The compensation in no way reflects the debt students have incurred during the loan system. And it is unfair that both the students that preceded the loan system generation and those who succeeded them benefit from a basic grant, while loan system students are burdened with a huge debt.

On the one hand, the abovementioned gentleman is right: life is not always fair, and at some point, you must learn to accept that. I, for one, accepted my sky-high debt that will probably never be compensated quite some time ago. However, that does not mean that I won’t express my discontent over the loan system. Nor does it mean that I will decline to endeavour for fair compensation for all students that have been adversely affected by the loan system! Moreover, how is standing up for yourself and others or expressing discontent over an unjust state of affairs that affects many, complaining?!

I know few people who work as hard as the students and graduates of this generation

The second thing that stands out in this reaction is the fact that he contrasts ‘complaining’ to ‘staying true to yourself and buckling down to work hard on your life.’ These two things are not mutually exclusive. To be frank, I know few people who work as hard as the students and graduates of this generation. For them, having an active social life, at least one side-job, a CV teeming with extra-curricular activities and good grades is no longer an exceptional accomplishment but merely what is expected. And at the same time, some 8,000 students protested at the Museumplein last Saturday, while ten times that number signed the #nietmijnschuldpetitie petition for fair compensation.

When will we see similar dedication among millennials, boomers and everyone in between? Stating that full compensation is impossible is nonsense, just a mindset.

Emma Mouthaan (26) is a master’s student of Molecular Nutrition and Toxicology and is also taking a master in Writing at the VU. Emma blogs on studying and finances on the website The Stingy Student. Previously, she wrote about fashion and food.

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