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Happy International Youth Day!

Originally published August 12, 2015.

The world is at my feet right now.

As a young person going into high school, I always felt that I didn’t deserve to grasp the world that was in front of me. I always took opportunities that were just shy of what I could really achieve, and thought that settling for that was better than reaching for the stars and ending up with nothing.

As a young person that has been out of high school for a little while, I honestly can’t really tell you that much about life- but I can tell you that you should never feel like you have to settle. Because the world is at your feet right now. Whether you’re turning 14 or 24, it’s there. And it’s waiting for you to grasp it.

Youth live in this world that constantly reminds them of the big decisions they need to make, yet acts as though they aren’t ready to make them. Youth in high school are expected to pick a life-long career but still have to ask to go to the washroom in class. Youth are told to go straight to college or university, then proceed to apply for jobs that require more experience than education. Youth live in this world facing people that walk around as if life is this paradox and until we enter the real world of adulthood, we’re all going to lose.

But none of that is true. And that is what International Youth Day (IYD) is about.

IYD is about celebrating all the successes that youth achieve every single day. It’s about showcasing their talents and encouraging others to provide a platform for those talents to grow and flourish. It’s about letting young people onto the stage and letting them steal the show so one day those talents and ideas will change the world.

Because they will change the world. We’re already changing the world!

There are vast amounts of young people on every continent, in every country, every city and every street you walk on. Young people are innovating, partnering with professionals to create new things, or even just holding doors open for others to make a few people smile.

The world tells youth that one day they will make a difference, but I don’t think that’s true. Youth are making a difference right now and it’s time to celebrate that and it’s time for us to work together, and trust that everyone we work with is capable of changing the world they live in.

So next time you feel like you aren’t ready to take on the world, and that you might just settle with something that could make you decently happy - remember that you are capable. Remember that you are ready to make big decisions right now. Remember that you deserve everything you want, and you deserve to work hard for it.

Remember to celebrate your peers or the youth you work with everyday. Happy International Youth Day!