by Kayla Cruz

“I love kids. Not in the creepy “I’m going to steal your child” kind of way, but still, I find them to be inspiring.

I think back to when I was younger and I remember just how happy I was.

I believed that everything and anything was possible.

As kids, the world is awesome. We see the world as this wonderful place and what we see is opportunity. We’re not yet jaded.

In studying generational differences in the workforce, one of the things that I’ve discovered is that all generations when they first enter the workforce are pretty similar. Baby Boomers, Millennials, each group of individuals, as young professionals, have shared the same frustrations and at the same time, the same hopes and desires.

Us recent graduates see possibility. We look at our surroundings, we look at our world and we see great opportunity to make it better.

This annoys a lot of people.

But to those people I ask…it was like that once for you, wasn’t it? You had new ideas and you wanted to make a difference. You dared to challenge the status-quo. You were going to change the world, weren’t you?

So tell me, what happened? Actually, there’s no need to tell me, because I already know.

People told you that you can’t. And sadly, you listened.

They discouraged you and told you that you weren’t going to change the world. And slowly, as time went by, you started to believe them.

That’s why I get so upset when reading negative articles pertaining to GenY, pertaining to the Millennials, pertaining to anyone young for that matter. Because within our youth, there exists so much untapped potential.

Here’s one of my favorite essays, written by Samuel Ullman, called Youth.

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of imagination, a vigor of the emotions, it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of 60 more than a boy of 20. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what’s next and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, and power from men and from God, so long are they young.

When the aerials are down and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and pessimism, then you are grown old, even at 20, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch waves of optimism, there is hope that you may die young at 80.”

We need to stop discouraging our youth. As corny as it sounds, they ARE the future. Rather than telling them all the reasons why their ideas won’t work, rather than resisting change, rather than crushing their hopes of impacting the world in a positive way, we should be helping them. We should be encouraging them. We should be working together, people of all generations, putting our egos aside, and striving to live life with the state of mind depicted in Ullman’s essay.

I have hopes. I have ideas. I have dreams. And I also possess the understanding that at some point (maybe it’s already started), I’ll be told that my dreams are unrealistic. I’ll be told that I can’t.

So here’s my voice, my stance on this matter made very public for the generation before me and the one that comes after…

I’m not listening.

And neither should you.