We are witnessing political, social and economic exclusion of young people in many countries around the world. Frustration and resentment are mounting. We feel the power of these young people. We fear their anger and their numbers. But we don't listen to what they are saying. We need to stop seeing young people as a threat and make them part of the solution.
Interviews are scary. After graduation I felt completely unprepared to answer the question, "why do you want to work here?" However, before one particular interview my dad gave me some advice that really helped me get over my fears. Though I suspect he gave me this advice so I would stop calling him all the time.
Not enough young people believe they can change the world on a global scale. The problem is a mindset problem, and one I believe is more dire than some might think. Too many young entrepreneurs think they're rock stars by launching another social network, or naming themselves the CEO of the world's 498th messaging app. Honestly, they're probably wasting their time.
I left my psychologist's couch three years ago, feeling bitter and yet relieved. "You don't have OCD," she says, "everyone has these compulsions, I wouldn't worry." And yet I was worried. As I've gotten older, the triggers have gotten worse: homework, deadlines, boyfriends, grades, lack of sleep, insomnia over quarter life crises -- you name it.
I'm told that 30 is a big step in the long march from an idealistic youth to a staunchly conservative mid-life. I'm pretty sure I won't become any less idealistic in my approaching dotage. I will still advocate for these same policies; the only difference being that as an adult my opinions are taken seriously. Why do we have such low expectations for young people?
Bill Clinton at the DNC said what white- and blue-collar workers have known for 30 years: you need to invest in people to have an innovative and productive economy. My coach, used to say "you get corn, if you plant corn." Neither in government nor in business have we been planting corn. We quit planting it almost 30 years ago when we got rid of middle management in government and the private sector, and as the economy reveals, we are losing.
When you meet these bright young students, the first impression is "wow, they're pretty normal teenagers." That impression doesn't last long. The minute they begin to describe their research, my mind reels as I try to keep up with each project's premise and findings. These are exception children, and they are our future.