There is one main motivating factor that leads young people into activism – the will and passion to change the world for the better. And while they are trying to achieve this for the world, activism actually changes them for the better. Being a young activist teaches you how to be a better person yourself. It creates responsible adults and citizens that are beneficial for the society in general. But people who have been part of this when they were young will always experience a lot of personal benefits into their adulthood.
And when I say that youth activism changes lives, you can trust me, because I have experienced that change first-hand. So let me share what I have learned.
Activism Teaches You How to Approach Difficult Problems
No matter what you do in life, how old you are and where you live, the ability and will to tackle hard problems are always valuable. It’s something that drives both personal and societal progress. And being an activist really teaches you to think about this kind of problems and to do your best to find solutions.
The reason for this might not be that intuitive, but it is quite logical when you think about it. One of the most complex questions you could ask is how to fix the world. It’s an immensely difficult problem because it involves so many moving parts that untangling causation and correlation is often next to impossible. Yet this is the exact type of problem that activism tries to address. And there is no way to be an activist without wrestling with that problem in your head.
To become an activist you need to see a problem in the world and try to act in a way that would help fix it. It requires really complex analysis and that’s why being an activist teaches you how to think about hard problems by forcing you to practice the skill over and over.
Activism Provides Unique Experience
When we are young, we can devote a lot of energy to all kinds of causes and we can be as idealistic as we want to be. But sooner or later, all of us need to become adults and start making a living.
Now let’s think about job interviews. No matter what job one would like to apply for, a question that they are certain to be asked is the question about previous experience. And while internships might look more appealing on your CV, activism can actually provide a young person with an enormous amount of valuable experience. Activism is about going into the world and working hard to make a difference and all of the skills that you pick up along the way are actually easily transferable to the workplace.
I spent a lot of my youth on activism and I haven’t done a job since that has not benefitted from the experience I got as one. When I was a marketer, my youth experience helped me understand people better, when I provided biology tuition in Singapore, it helped me be confident enough to teach, and when I worked as a cashier in a supermarket, it helped me understand the value of my otherwise not so rewarding job, so I could stay motivated. Everything I’ve tried to do in my life, I would have done worse if I hadn’t had this experience in my youth.
Activism Makes Life Better
While it’s easy to have a cynical approach to activism and its ability to change the world we live in for the better, the reality is that it works. It works especially well when you practice it in the community you live in. When you’ve been an activist in your youth, it’s hard not to continue to be one in your adulthood. This can help you be a contributing member of the community you live in and when push for positive change at a smaller scale, it leads to results more easily. And when somebody has spent their youth being an activist, they will continue being a valuable member of society throughout their lives, making the lives of people around them and their own a little bit better.