From a 16-year-old blind musical prodigy to a West African boy who built batteries collected from garbage scraps in his village, we couldn’t help leaving this year’s TEDxTeen conference in complete awe. But teens weren’t the only sources of inspiration from that day -- host Chelsea Clinton also had some words of wisdom to share with the young audience.
While you probably know her best as President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea has made a name for herself as a special correspondent for NBC News, as well as in her efforts to speak out about the uncomfortable topic of diarrhea, which is related to 100,000 deaths in Nigeria each year.
HuffPost Teen caught up with the impassioned former first daughter at TEDxTeen this past Saturday in New York. Here are five powerful pieces of advice for Generation Y we took from our conversation with her.
1. Ask yourself what you can do for others.
"When [my grandmother and parents] would ask me, 'Well, what did you do today?' part of what they implied was, 'Well, what did you do for others?' It would not have been okay at the dinner table if I just didn’t have something to say ... That was the kind of world I grew up in. And being asked those questions really often helped me to always think, 'Wow, I have a real responsibility to define my life partly through what I can do for others and what I can learn from others.' I’m grateful that they set that example."
2. You should care about the world around you.
“I think [there] is a big misconception that people who are younger are more apathetic or more disinterested or more tuned out. That’s just not true. People are more connected, feel more empowered and feel a greater responsibility for their world than ever before. And we see that in so many different ways. I mean, a greater number and a greater percentage of people than ever before volunteer on a regular basis, and they actually keep volunteering once they’re in college ... young people [also] donate small dollar amounts when there are crises, like the Haiti earthquake. So I think all of this says that young people are far from apathetic, actually feel quite engaged, and thankfully, [feel] quite empowered.”
3. Do what you can.
“I think all the time, 'What can I be doing?' and then, 'What should I be doing?' ... Because if we feel like, 'Oh my gosh, we can do everything and we should do everything' -- that’s overwhelming and disempowering. So I think about the things where I can make a difference."
4. If you have a great idea, speak up.
“Let your idea out of your head. Have the courage to share your idea, whether it’s with your teacher, a friend, online -- like an online community that is already concentrated around something that you really care about. See what the reaction is, see what the response is. Hopefully that will help surface different ideas to make your idea even stronger.”
5. "Get caught trying."
“The best advice that my mom gave me was repeating my grandmother’s mantra: Life’s about not what happens to you, it’s about what you do with what happens to you. It really is this kind of galvanizing message in my family. [Also] 'get caught trying,' which is something that has really motivated my father’s life. It’s always better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.”