Elizabeth Olson

Elizabeth Olson delivering her talk, “Kids these days can face challenges with courage” on the TEDxYouth@1000Lakes stage.

Elizabeth “Izzie” Olson reflects on her recent experience as a speaker for TEDxYouth@1000Lakes in her monthly column for the Student Success Blog.

This month I had the opportunity to participate in TEDxYouth@1000Lakes at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids. This is the second TEDx in the Itasca area and the first co-hosted by the Blandin Foundation and Itasca Community College. TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design and this year’s theme was “Kids These Days.”

TED talks originated in 1984 but began as an annual event in 1990. As of November 13, 2012 TED talks have been viewed over one billion times worldwide.  The mission of TED is “ideas worth spreading” and the topics are as varied as there are ideas that are “worth spreading.” Quite a few famous people have given a TED talk, including Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Adam Savage, and Nobel Prize winners. I now have the honor of being one of those people.

I found it very interesting to see all of the bright and brave individuals at this event, and that the majority of them were my age. It is astounding to see what these people created both verbally and musically; they were very passionate about their TED talks.

My personal story was about teen suicide and finding something you are passionate about to process through the thoughts of suicide. Writing poetry, singing, acting, and drawing are what have helped me in these desperate times. I also find that being able to share my passions and emotions with others who can relate with me help as well.

Every time an important task comes about, like presenting my TED talk, I always try to find a way to get out of it.  However, I do follow through because I know that if I back away from these responsibilities, then I am just being a coward.  This belief has been ingrained into my morals, because of how I was raised. All the choices I make reflect on how my grandmother raised me and how she wanted me to behave. Even though she in no longer with me, I can still feel her presence when I am making tough decisions in life.

I believe being able to face our fears, and accept life’s challenges, is the epitome of success. Participating in this event with my peers is the perfect example. For more information on TED and to view the Kids These Days talks visit http://www.ted.com/tedx/events/5855.