Saturday, 19 May 2012

Young and Naive? Hell Yes.

Hi there. It's been a while.

I like to ask awkward , on-the-spot questions to people I've only just met .
I think I got this from my dad .

When I was younger , he would take me out to dinner , and would look at me with this intense look , and ask; 

"So Anna, if there was one thing you could do to change the world , what would it be?" 
And I would pause , and then reply;

"How would I know , I'm only six?"

So as you can see , from a young age , I've been taught to think big , optimistically and passionately . And though it was initially slightly uncomfortable , I am so glad that I've become someone who feels uninhibited to dream and plan elaborate world-changing projects , that will probably (and maybe for the best ) never materialise .

But I have found this is actually not the norm in my generation . So many young people have incredible ideas , and dreams of what they want to achieve in their life time , but too often are stamped down by people saying;

"How DARE you be Young and Inexperienced!"

I am lucky enough to have attended the TED conference , and one year while I was there , a woman came up to me and asked "What are you doing here? You're like TWELVE!"... ( I was 18 at the time , and just becoming youthfully idealistic ) . I was slightly shocked at being so rudely spoken to , and so instead of thinking of a sassy retort ( that we always think of afterwards! ) I muttered something apologetically , and shuffled off .

But this has stuck with me . It's this attitude that society has; that teenagers and young adults are a loud , drunk , obnoxious nuisance , ( some are, don't get me wrong) that have nothing interesting to say because their brains are only unformed mush , and really... how much life experience could they have? So when a young person does pipe up with a new idea , they survey the view of doubting , and slightly amused faces , then excuse themselves , brush off their idea and apologise for disturbing the peace .

Due to this mis-trust , this brushing off , we have seen a rise of cynicism from our generation;

"what's the point of even trying?" 

And who could blame us with all the problems we face? Unemployment is intimidating for new graduates , student debt is crushing , and we see our contemporaries rioting in London . We apply for a job , but they all seem to require 2 years previous experience . There's immense frustration at the government , and at the same time an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and apathy .

I'm guessing that this whole mis-trust of the young and inexperienced isn't going to end any time soon . No doubt , we will be the same when we're older and more cynical . But that doesn't mean we have to endure it now.

We , the young adults of the world , are a huge and mainly untapped source of productivity , optimism , passion , and new ideas .

The young adult is blessed with energy and idealism . She has enough experience of life to find passion in something , but not enough to feel her spirit crushed by failure. So now is the time to try out our big ideas . Who cares if we're young and inexperienced? The way we gain experience is to go out and try . 

One of my favorite TED talks is by Brene Brown on the topic of Shame . She says that shame is 'an epidemic in our culture'. My favorite part is where she says this: 

'I know it's seductive to stand outside the arena… and think to myself, "I'm gonna go in there and kick some ass - when I'm bullet proof, and when I'm perfect", but the truth is, that never happens.'

So true .

So I don't know about you guys , but I'm not gonna wait until I'm bullet proof , or old , or perfect . I'm gonna try and do something cool now . So what if I fail? I learn , get stronger , and know to do better next time . If we all wait until we're old and 'qualified' to do something , well... we're not gonna get very far . 

So please don't listen to the apathetic , or the cynical , or the pessimistic , or the patronising , or the people who blame you for being 'twelve'... Now is the time to become who you want to be , and to start achieving what you want to achieve .

Don't wait ok?

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