Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon said, “We are all dreamers creating the next world, the next beautiful world for ourselves and our children.” As I watch my friends and family raise daughters, I often think about the women who paved the way for my dreams and created the next world I would experience. In a world full of peer pressure, distractions and the ever-present image of the perfect life, I thought I would get advice from those who will be affected the most by the building of their next world: our girls, nieces, and/or daughters.

I have the pleasure of interacting with many of my friends’ daughters as the “cool auntie,” so I asked a few of them the following questions: 1. What do you dream about for your future and how do you plan to achieve it? 2. What does creating the next world mean to you? 3. Who do you look up to and why? 4. What worries you about the world right now and how do you think it will impact your future? 5. If you could change one thing about the media, what would it be & why? Their answers are both poignant and powerful and gave me much to think about as I help shape their next world and how they will face challenges ahead.

1. What do you dream about for your future and how do you plan to achieve it? I remember being 16 and dreaming about a life in the fast lane of fashion. My career path took a few different turns, but ultimately, as an adult, I still have a love for fashion and small business and it helped my dream come alive to be an advocate for women’s empowerment and positive body image for all body types. When I asked my friend’s daughter about her dreams she shared this, “I dream about going to college to be a veterinarian. I plan to achieve this by taking multiple science classes, study hard in high school and get good grades.” I’m continually inspired by the drive of this beautiful girl who has a plan and she will achieve it; I know it and can’t wait to watch her succeed.

2. What does creating the next world mean to you? For me personally, creating the next world means busting the stigmas and being a voice of change today–right now for all to hear. My 17-year-old niece shared the following with me about what creating the next world means to her: “To me, it means making a better environment. It means filtering out the fake and applying the real.” I think this could be applicable to so many aspects of our lives, not just the environment of our planet. We need to cut out the superficial existence that has come with social media and embrace reality and our imperfections and their ability to give diversity to our relationships.

3. Who do you look up to and why? There are so many people who I look up to for many different reasons. When I was a teenager, I really admired my voice and piano teacher. She was so classy and talented in our small-town world, but didn’t mind that she wasn’t teaching in a metropolitan area and making a lot more money. She taught me to bloom where one is planted and make the most of where you are in life. She was also the best cook in town and the first to bring over a meal when someone was in need, and that set the example for me to look out for others and serve whenever possible. My friend’s daughter shared the following: “I look up to my mother and father. Both of them work their hardest, have patience and are determined.” Our younger generation is facing a lot of challenges that haven’t existed in the world for very long. As adults, we have the responsibility to show what it means to live boldly, but ethically, and with much compassion and courage.

4. What worries you about the world right now and how do you think it will impact your future? My biggest worry for our future generations are the expectations to be perfect as set by the media. As we continue to turn to the digital way of life, we are also being influenced by images that can be modified at the click of a button or a version of the truth in print can be fluffed up a bit to get more likes, tweets or views. That kind of stigma is hard to break and it has long-lasting damage to our mental health and perspective on life.

My friend’s daughter’s answer to this question was powerful and applies to all of us. She said, “At my school there is a lot of peer pressure to do the wrong things. Many people fall into the horrible trap of peer pressure. It becomes a bad habit if you give into peer pressure because people expect you to do it and they accept lower expectations than what you are capable of doing.”

My 17-year-old niece shared this great thought, “The contention. The fact that every group thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong.”

I will reiterate that our differences and imperfections create diversity and that is a good thing. Here at HER Magazine, we are striving to “unmake tradition” and that definitely includes cutting out the negative peer pressure, contention and constant need to be right.

5. If you could change one thing about the media, what would it be & why? I dream of a day when the news is shared as it really happened (the good and the bad) and that people are portrayed in their natural state of existence, not the filtered “unicorns, rainbows, perfect-for-Instagram” version. It’s hard to admit that life is not glamorous and easy, both in the news and at home. But, we have to get to that point. The mental health of our youth is drastically affected by the standard that is set for perfection and is causing a tragically rising rate of suicide, substance abuse, addiction, depression and PTSD in our kids. My 17-year-old niece put it simply, “I would change the need to be ‘perfect.’ It causes so many issues with self-esteem and body image.”

We continue to make so much progress in creating a world for our girls that is progressive, safe and full of opportunity. We can change the world, we can create a beautiful next world, but it takes effort and hard work every single day. But, we can do it! Yes, we can!

The moral of the story: Our next world is being created now; make it amazing.

Until next time, my lovelies!

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