It’s not possible to summarize what it is to be a person under the age of 30 today. For me, I am seeing how the climate crisis is creating paralysis in my friends and myself to the point where we can’t even really talk about it. When I was in middle school, I created a sort of personal brand around “saving the polar bears.” It was the voicemail on my parents’ landline, the thing relatives asked me about on holidays, what I scribbled in Sharpie on my Converse. For a fifth-grade math class assignment, I decided to determine how much money I’d need to purchase a fleet of helicopters hooked to giant metal cages in order to whisk the polar bears away from their floating patches of ice — to where, I don’t remember. Now when I see an ad or a TikTok featuring anything like a giant sheet of glacier collapsing into the Arctic, I get a deep pain in my stomach and have to quickly flip it away.
For me, growing up in a post–20th century United States has meant reckoning with a reckoning. I feel the intense dissonance between what I think my values are and the way I live as a settler on this land, within a system and a country that exploit and murder people and ecosystems for capital. The pain in my stomach doesn’t come from me only; it has been built up for centuries.
There have been so many studies and articles written about why young people are suffering from unprecedented high rates of depression and anxiety today. I’m not here to add to the dissection. Instead, this magazine is a platform for some incredible thinkers who explore how the world around them has impacted their ability to experience joy, to imagine their identity, to mourn the loss of their dad, to feel supported at school, and more. The prompt was open ended, and I didn’t ask young people to write about what I thought they might be experiencing.
Maybe because of that, you’ll find a lot of optimism in these pages. As 17-year-old cover artist Aiyana Beaulieu says, “It can be hard to learn about issues in the world, but it’s important to look at how things are changing for the better and how people are uniting and loving each other for who they are.”