Youthful, Successful

2534935739_5e8f3f9fbf_qA lot of old people like to paint today’s youth as a problem. Pundits, authors, and media personalities could speak at length about how young people today are lazy, about how they don’t know how to communicate, how they don’t know hard work or discipline. In short, young people are ruining the world.

And that’s true, except for one word; instead of “ruining,” let’s say, “shaping.” Young people are shaping the world. They’re not just a bunch of hipsters who care way too much about their clothing; they’re a bunch of hipsters who care too much about their clothing while also defining how we live our lives. Need proof? Just check out the article “Kids These Days” from the New York Times Style Magazine.

The fact is that many of the great innovators in the recent past got their start in their twenties. And the trend continues. Read some of the profiles; whether you like what these people do or hate it, there’s no denying that they’re pushing boundaries and changing the way the world works.

But there’s another important point in here. It comes near the end of the introduction. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and backer of Facebook, talks about how people’s dreams get away from them; by the time they’re a little older and making real money, he says, they already have too many expensive obligations (like mortgages, for example), so they never get to really do their own thing. People in their twenties don’t have these obligations, and therefore have less to lose by trying something risky.

The author, Andrew Ross Sorkin, then goes on to explain why twenty-somethings right now are struggling:

One of the biggest challenges facing this next generation — and one that may prevent more visionary entrepreneurs from succeeding — is the staggering rise in the level of debt college students have been left with.

Essentially, student loan debt turns twenty-two year olds into forty-two year olds. New college graduates have obligations, monthly payments, things to keep track of, which means they’re not as free to mess around with the world as they used to be.

But that doesn’t mean you, as a young person, should just give up and resign yourself to a life of struggling to make ends meet. Quite the opposite, it means you need to really push it. There’s no time to twiddle your thumbs. Your dream career isn’t going to wait for you. If you want to do something worthwhile, you have to get started NOW. You need to grab hold of your future and make a push for greatness today.

(photo by Flickr user Anthony Easton, used under a Creative Commons License).

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