What does fun mean for young people?

With the festive season in full swing, fun is the word on many people’s lips and in many people’s minds.  In a time filled with reports of economic crises, poverty and mindless violence, we need fun to create a happy medium.

I’ve spent some time speaking to a variety of young people, finding out what the word fun means for them and of course, what it is that they actually like to do for fun.  Just as it was with success, fun has different meanings for different people.

In fact, fun is not a priority for some young people – 22-year-old Reyan* spends all her time working or going to university, leaving her with no time for fun.  Adrian, 21, also said: “Nowadays, I rarely ever intentionally do anything for “fun”.  The word to me is the linguistic epitome of frivolity.”

Nevertheless, the main consensus among young people is that fun simply means doing something you enjoy or enjoying what you are doing, although they expressed this in their own various ways.  Garry, 23, described fun as “full enjoyment, whilst 20-year-old, Jesse, described it as enjoying yourself while being able to be yourself.

Fun  is not only enjoying what you do, but it is also the enjoyment of the little things and just life in general.  Jack, 19, puts it into words, saying: “[Fun is] enjoying your life with family and friends, and enjoying the little things.”Hot Chocolate

One of the major elements of enjoyment among young people seems to be the presence of their friends and family.  “…I just need to be with the right people.  There are people I know I will just have a fun time with,” said 20-year-old Giselle.  Being with loved ones also helps to create lasting memories, which is the meaning of fun for some young individuals.

“Fun is more like happiness,” said 16-year-old Jay*.  There were quite a significant number of young people who said that for them, fun was about being happy or doing something that makes them happy.  Rebecca, 22, illustrates it best: “To me, fun means happiness, joy, peace in my heart, soul and mind.”

Fun is also all about relaxing for some young people – 22-year-old Sana says, “Fun for me is relaxation, unwinding… and ultimately feeling stress free!”  Relaxing is important in a time when young people are facing a lot of pressure, especially for those with constant deadlines or who are always on the grind.  Helen, 23, said: “Fun for me means not having your head consumed with responsibility and deadlines, and just living in the moment.”

Photo by Greyerbaby and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by Greyerbaby and used under Creative Commons License.

In fact, it actually goes deeper than relaxation – it is about them forgetting about their worries, troubles or inhibitions for that moment in time.  It is a way of distracting them from reality.  However, 19-year-old Bright takes it even deeper: “Fun means to me forgetting about the history of yesterday and the mystery of tomorrow, and enjoying the moment that God has allowed you to have.”

A few young individuals also look at fun as embracing their inner child, which brings an innocence to the word.  Nahed, 22, described fun as childishness, while 17-year-old Tia said: “Fun means something that allows me to be childish and have that sense of energy.”

There was also one beautiful, unique response, which stood out from the rest.  Zoey, 22, said: “Fun is very simple to me.  It’s purely freedom of the mind and spirit, in being open to new experiences and viewing life from a happy point of view.”

“When I can’t stop laughing and smiling that’s when I’m having fun,” says Giselle.  It was refreshing – but probably not surprising – to see that fun meant laughter for so many young people, as laughter is usually one of the key ingredients involved in fun.  Nora, 22, expresses it perfectly: “Fun means laughter.  If you’re not laughing, you’re not having fun.”Laughter

It was interesting to learn what different individuals do for fun, especially as I began to see some common themes.  Of course, spending time with friends and family is what the majority of young people enjoy doing for fun.  This may be a family gathering, chatting or “banter” with friends, having a drink with their mates, or as 21-year-old Matthew puts it, “hanging with my boys”.

Sports turned out to be popular, mainly amongst the young men, but I was surprised to learn how many of them played basketball – it proved more popular than playing football.  However, it came as no surprise that listening to music and eating (particularly eating out) were popular fun activities amongst young people.

Photo by iamrubenjr and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by iamrubenjr and used under Creative Commons License.

A significant number of young people also enjoy clubbing/partying, being involved in music, going to the cinema, playing games and reading.  Others also like to sleep, watch TV, play video games, keep fit, go shopping and expand their knowledge.  Having a smoke and going on holidays also came up a few times.

However, it was some of the unique answers that were special and provided extra depth to certain young individuals.  For 22-year-old Meera, fun means something as simple as a lie-in, while 21-year-old Aliya* likes “throwing shade” for fun.

Competitive sportsman, Matthew, enjoys winning and proving haters wrong, 21-year-old creative, Si-Ann, loves teaching dance and watching her business grow, whilst 19-year-old aspiring doctor, Danielle, finds fulfilment  in making others happy.  A number of other individuals enjoy bowling, baking brownies and cookies, spreading the gospel, making their parents proud, walking, making their girl smile and riding motorbikes.

This list could go on and on, because there are numerous different things that mean fun for young people, which highlights their versatility and how much they make of what life has to offer.  The vast majority of what was mentioned were simple things that involved people rather than products, showing that fun does not come down to just money.  Paris, 25, sums it up perfectly: “Fun is priceless.”

*names have been changed

Why leaving university was the best decision I ever made

I have recently read a number of stories about individuals dropping out of university, and I have also spent a decent amount of time telling others why I made the decision to drop out.  However, my explanation has been quite minimal.  Today, I feel inspired to tell the full story of why I left university, and why it was the best decision I ever made.

While I was at university, I came to the sudden realisation that the career I had spent so long striving for was no longer my dream.  It was a terrifying feeling that seemed to smack me in the face and lead to a whirlwind of questions.  Should I call it a day?  Should I persevere to the end?  Should I give up on my dream?

I wasn’t like a lot of young people who struggle to figure out what they want to do in life, as Jane Austen Wedding DressI had envisioned becoming a fashion designer from the age of ten. I loved art and drawing clothes, and I intended to become the founder, manager and Dress Design 4designer of an organisation that created clothes for curvier figures.

I set out a step-by-step plan to reach my goal, and nothing or no one was going to deter me. Study Art & Design, Textiles and Business Studies at GCSE. Check. Study Textiles and Business Studies at A-Level. Check.  Then before I reached the world of work, there was just one more thing to tick off my checklist. University.

As soon as I knew that I wanted to become a fashion designer, I set my sights on going to the London College of Fashion (LCF). This was my dream university and I was determined that I would be there in September 2010, starting my degree.  Completing a Foundation Year was not a part of my plan, which saw me draining myself to create a stand-out portfolio and build on my fashion knowledge to ensure my place on my chosen course.

My hard work did pay off and by the time my A-level results were released, I was enrolled on the BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development course. I was excited about taking on an amazing course that combined business intelligence with the creative side of fashion. And to top it all off, it was rounded out perfectly with a placement year in the middle.

However, as I worked through my first term, I sensed that something was wrong. I tried and tried to like my course, but for some reason I couldn’t.  No matter how long I stayed, I did not feel comfortable at my beloved LCF.  Despite all these warning signs going off in my head, I made the decision to stay put and persevere.  This had been my dream for so long and I was not giving up now.

Final prototype for Sensual Poison
Final prototype for Sensual Poison
Collage for my final uni project, Sensual Poison
Collage for my final university project, Sensual Poison










University got harder and harder, and no matter how hard I was trying, it seemed that I was not progressing.  In fact, my marks seemed to be getting worse and I hated that, because I have high expectations of myself.  I also found myself feeling emotionally and physically drained, as I gave up all of myself to my degree.  There were times when I even found myself dreaming about my projects, which was a little unsettling.

When it was finally time for me to find a work placement, I struggled and ultimately ended P1110023 No 2up without one. This cut me deep, resulting in my feeling rejected, angry and not good enough.  It was the wakeup call I so desperately needed to reconsider what it was that I wanted in life.

Instead of taking a placement year, I took a gap year to re-evaluate where my life was heading before returning to final year. However, as I delved deeper into self-meditation, I realised that I no longer wanted to work in fashion, although I did want to complete my final year so that I would at least have a degree.

As I began making the necessary preparations to return to LCF, feelings of distress and P1110024 No 2unhappiness began to burn up inside me. I finally took the time to really see how sad and depressed my degree had made me over the two years.  I knew that my final year would destroy me, so I refused to go back.

Although I still had a strong love and interest in fashion, I could see that my heart was not in it and that a part of me that was not pursuing fashion for the right reasons.  Some individuals think I’m crazy for not finishing my degree, but I knew that I had to go back to basics and discover my true calling.  However, it wasn’t too hard, because writing has always been my real passion.

Changing my career path threw me off-balance and brought numerous fears to the surface, but that’s okay, because writing is what I truly love.  Just like one of my tutors from LCF said, it’s a good thing I discovered this now rather than 10 or 20 years down the line.

Staying at university would have been extremely damaging to my emotional and mental health, especially when I felt that I was not getting the type of support I needed.  Leaving LCF was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done and it has helped me to become happier than I’ve been in a long time.

I have also been able to properly kickstart my writing career by gaining experience and working on my own projects, which is what’s important.  Although I have no clue about what the future holds for me, I do intend to be successful and prove all those who thought I was crazy completely wrong.  Dropping out of university is seriously the best decision I have ever made.

An article I wrote for Croydon Guardian
One of my articles for Croydon Guardian

A critical moment to engage young people

For me, engaging young people is essential. We need to do all we can to ensure that young people are engaged, and using their voices to make changes for their present and future.

Post2015.org - what comes after the MDGs?


This post is by Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat. In 2013, the Commonwealth launched the first-ever global Youth Development Index, which measures the status of young people in 170 countries around the world. This blog has been posted as part of the Wikiprogress discussion on “Youth well-being: measuring what matters!

As the world deliberates on the post-2015 agenda, there has never been a more critical moment to engage young people. The inclusion of youth perspectives, and the energy, diversity and talent that young people bring, is a clear-cut imperative. Young people have an incredible amount to offer to national development processes, and, with the right support and opportunities, can be empowered to realise their full potential.

Today, almost half of the world’s population (48.9%, according to Euromonitor International) is aged under 30, and the proportion is generally much higher in developing countries. It is…

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