From studying for her GCSEs to playing a key role in the Nottingham Youth Climate Assembly, fifteen-year-old Liv Marshall is already a leader in the fight for the planet. It’s not always easy, but when it comes to preventing literal world-ending events, Liv says it’s important to always keep going…
As I sit on my bed with a pile of homework staring me in the face, I find it hard to search for hope in a world that feels like it was not built for me. The news doesn’t bring much comfort either, as every day it's a new disaster in the headlines, with a reporter looking more serious than my headteacher at school. He stands there in assembly and talks about our futures, about how we can take the reins and create a society full of love and innovation, and in that moment, we all ask the same question: how?
It’s a question I’ve pondered on a lot myself. How are we supposed to take on the responsibilities of those who have come before us, those who have succeeded before us, and those whose stories are told in the history books we read in lessons? The pressure can feel immense, but a little searching can bring the confidence we need to make Nottingham a city - and make the UK a country - that we want to live in.
We were born in a generation of role models and game changers, and historically, young people always have been. You only have to look back to the hippies of the sixties who brought a wave of counterculture to the otherwise traditional western world, or the young climate activists pushing the conversation forward today, to see that youth brings strength and power to us all.
These occurrences aren’t just a part of the past, either. Today, there are thousands of young people, including right here in Nottingham, who are taking what they have and making the changes they want to see.
It might seem like those in power don’t have the time to listen to your ideas, or that there are bigger issues at stake, but that does not mean your voice can’t be heard. There are groups, like the Nottingham Youth Climate Assembly, who are putting our ideas into documents and pushing council and MPs for new policies, and it’s working. It’s certainly a marathon and not a sprint, but from a residential weekend in July, to holding panels and meetings with those who can make a difference, I’d say it’s going quite well.
But what if it all goes wrong and we end up with a climate disaster?
The fear of what could be can often be a cloud floating above our heads, but failure is a part of every learning process. While, in many cases, you will be your own biggest critic, you can’t allow these thoughts of doubt to ruin the progress you are making.
It might seem like those in power don’t have the time to listen to your ideas, but that does not mean your voice won’t be heard
I want you to think of someone you look up to. This could be a celebrity, a family member, a teacher; they can be quite literally anyone. That person you’re thinking of has made mistakes, thousands of them. There have been so many times in their life where they have found themselves lost with seemingly no escape, where they wanted to give up, where they couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But this doesn’t change your opinion on them, because they kept going. They didn’t throw in the towel when every part of their body said to give in, and that’s what is so important to their success.
In the words of Sir Lewis Hamilton, “It’s not about how you fall, it’s about how you get up, it’s always about how you get up.”
It’s a quote I live by, especially as a young activist, because every day it reminds me how vital it is to just keep going. In every speech I make, without fail, I will make a mistake, and that’s okay. Sometimes events don’t fully go my way or I don’t get my point across in the right way and that is okay too, it doesn’t make my success any less incredible.
These slip-ups are littered in everyone’s lives, throughout school and work, in relationships and friendships; we’re all human, and without those errors we wouldn’t have anything to learn from. Staying the same will get you nowhere, but making progress, however painful that may be, certainly will.
There will be times when you fail, when your ideas fall short, and in those moments, it will feel like the world is sitting on your young shoulders. But we can’t let this failure dictate our future. Don’t expect everything you do to be perfect, because anything you do won’t seem as special compared to the images you have in your head.
You have to get up after every loss, make do with what you have and, when in doubt, fake it till you make it. Every single person in Nottingham has the potential to do something great, including you, and I hope that you can bring yourself to share that faith and get up tomorrow with a mindset that you can, and will, make change.
Liv is helping to launch local Fridays for Future protests starting this Saturday 6 January at 4pm in Old Market Square - follow Liv on Twitter for more info @livmarshalluk
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