30 is the New 13

As dusk fell over my adopted city of Washington, D.C., something dawned on me while walking home from a dinner last night: 30 is the new 13.

aldersdiskriminering_450xartikelbild_743x_1Perhaps it’s the fact that, one year from now, I’ll still be a twenty-something-year-old, that I’ve never truly felt my age, or that I’ve always had friends both younger and older than me, I never really considered the cultural significance of turning thirty until last night. Like the “unlucky” number 13 in this country, 30 seems to have taken a life of its own. While I don’t necessarily agree with the number’s narrative, I’ve learned that, for many people, it’s a clean marker of when we stop classifying others as “young” entrepreneurs, artists, educators, etc. and the point which society has deemed ending one phase of your life and starting a (hopefully more settled) one.

From reading Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list to listening someone prep for a friend’s “Big 29th” last night, I’ve come to realize that we have a deep-seated fascination in America with this number. While there is and will continue to be a negative connotation with turning 30 (and no offense to my esteemed colleagues and friends who are already 30 or older), this fascination is telling of a growing cultural shift where we’re looking to teenagers and twenty-somethings for their approaches to challenging preexisting consumer behaviors, policies, and whole industries. Traditional research has shown that this disruption often occurs later in life, so there’s something special when young people are able to add to larger conversations. As stated in a June 2013 article in the Harvard Business Review:

According to famed developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, as we grow older, hunger for meaning animates us, making us more alive. His theory explains that each healthy human passes through eight stages of development from infancy to adulthood. The seventh stage of development typically takes places between the ages 40-64 and centers around generativity, a period not of stagnation, but of productivity and creativity, including a strong commitment to mentoring and shoring up the next generation. Individuals in this developmental stage are supremely motivated to generate value, not just for themselves, but for others, asking the question: What can I do to make my life really count?”

However, with disruptors such as Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Phan, and the creators of Sweetgreen on the scene, the message is clear: young people are changing our world in many ways, and our fascination is here to stay. At Everyday Ambassador, we’ve recognized this very shift in our own team’s makeup but in also featuring a mix of of people who have generated viable, locally derived solutions to problems in international development. Some of these Everyday Ambassadors also happen to be younger than 30.

Forbes Under 30For our teenage or twenty-something readers then, we’re featuring one exciting initiative that you can take part in – just in time for next Saturday’s International Youth Day: Forbes Under 30 $1 Million Change the World Competition.

The theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “Youth Civic Engagement”, as according the United Nations, current “opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent.” As a potential solution for this trend, Forbes Under 30 $1 Million Change the World Competition is encouraging any active social entrepreneur born after October 6, 1985 to participate.

According to the website, this is the “largest ever [competition] for young social entrepreneurs” and aims “to reward and accelerate those entrepreneurs already making a difference”.

Once submissions, which are due on August 26, 2015, are all collected, five or six finalists will receive $100,000 USD and “will then compete on-stage at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia on October 6, 2015 in front of 2,000 world-class mentors and the best young entrepreneurs and game-changers in the world, as culled from the Forbes 30 Under 30 lists. ”

Up for grabs as the grand prize? $400,000 USD in cash and in-kind support, which can total up to $1,000,000 USD overall. If you’re interested, check out the official competition website for additional information.

“Bucket List” is a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador’s Director of Brand Strategy Audrey del Rosario. Every Saturday, we will feature events, conferences, and happenings that spark conversation and ignite your inner activist. To stay current with our latest posts, follow #bucketlist or #EAinspired on our other platforms, and check back regularly for updates.

Image Credit: Shortcut.se, Herox.com

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