We live in a world that is fast evolving and we consume more digital content than the human brain can comprehend, which influences our attentional capacities, social cognition and memory processes. Further to this, the fast-evolving stream of online content creates a disparity between real life social behavior and the Internet. Globally, on various social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram there is a combination of 7.7 billion users, of which Facebook has 2 billion users sharing 293,000 status updates daily1. The stream of information creates what is deemed a “highlight reel”, which highlights the picture worthy moments in people’s lives. This erodes the self-esteem of the average person because there is a human tendency to internally compare the realistic daily living to someone’s seemingly picture-perfect life.
An eroding self-esteem further erodes the feeling of worthiness, which robs individuals from stepping into roles of advocacy for matters they believe in. This is paired with feeling inadequate in stepping into roles of leadership and wanting to impact change. Although not everyone has an engrained desire to become a leader or an advocate, what is a common denominator in most people is – we all care about something.
The One Young World summit creates an opportunity for people from all walks of life to share a stage with world leaders and young change makers who want to have their voice heard about the matters they hold close to their heart. It is a stage that is inclusive and solutions driven, which acts as an amplifier of the voices of the delegates.
I had the privilege of formulating part of the 2021 One Young World Munich Summit and it has availed me the opportunity to learn how to succinctly communicate the work I do to the world. I co-lead an anti-racism campaign that called for the removal of a lynching pole from a public space in a town called Henties Bay. Upon starting the advocacy work, there was a significant amount of self-doubt that led me believe that I was overreacting and perhaps I was looking too deeply into a lynching pole structure. In hindsight, I have a firm understanding of the fear that can rob one of speaking up about matters that hit close to home. I am able to look back today with pride in that I overcame the fear of speaking up and advocate against a racial structure.
In stepping into unfamiliar spaces and learning that my voice matters, my opinion matters and the world issues I advocate for matter. I have found that the world is willing to listen, I simply have to be willing to speak.
I write this, in hopes that although we live in a world that is fast paced and can quickly make one feel like your voice is small in the sea of voices across the Internet, someone would read this and know – our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
The process of overcoming the fear of speaking on the matters that you care about, requires braving the fear and believing that you have something important to say that the world needs to hear. It is my hope that you will be brave and believe that your voice matters.
About the Author
Known for her tenacity in driving social change and development, Mavis Elias is a multi-faceted youth leader from Namibia who is a civil engineer and development specialist. She is a One Young World Ambassador, Founder of the EM Love Foundation and co-lead of the #TheGallowsMustFall movement.