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I am proud of my generation.

We are a mass of young adults embracing our individuality.

Look around! People are shaving off half of their hair, tattooing their shoulders, and marching for feminism. No longer are we worried about becoming big business men and women or top dog lawyers, we’ll major in creative writing and love every minute of it!

What I love most about our generation is our starry eyes. We all have big dreams, and we all want to change the world. But the only problem with our desire for change is no one is quite sure how to take the first step.

Let me take on a bit of a fortune cookie persona and say that change starts within ourselves. You don’t have to organize a hunger strike or a march on Washington D.C. to make a difference. In fact, we can all the change world with a few small steps.

1. Smile at strangers.It doesn’t have to be a big, toothy, Cheshire cat grin, but a little smile really can go a long way. Next time you make eye contact with someone as you pass them by, instead of darting your eyes away, send over a polite smile. Nine times out of ten, they will smile back at you, and their day will be just a little bit brighter. Who knows? Maybe they’ll smile at another stranger because they realized how good you made them feel, and before you know it, you will have started a never ending smiling train.

2. Give compliments.Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I don’t know what kind of compliments Mark Twain was receiving, but they must not have been good ones, because a really good compliment can make my entire existence. It feels amazing to be recognized for something you worked hard on, whether it be an essay, a piece of artwork, or a hairstyle. No one will ever think poorly of you for complimenting them. Next time you see someone wearing an outfit you like, or notice a really great personality trait that they possess, tell them! It will make them feel good and it will make you feel good knowing that you made their day. Who cares if you don’t know them very well? After you give them praise, they will know that you are kind and friendly, and that is all that matters.

3. Cut down on the gossip.We’re all guilty of it. We notice someone with an unusual hair color or a different type of outfit and we immediately mutter a comment to our friend under our breath. This kind of cruelty has simply got to stop. Not only do rude remarks like this make the person they are directed toward feel bad, but they will eventually make you feel bad too. Saying something negative about somebody else may trick you into feeling better about yourself for a while, but in the long run, it is only going to make you feel regret for being so hurtful. Next time you feel the urge to gossip about someone, ask yourself if something impolite really needs to be said. The answer will almost always be no. Instead of bashing a girl for dying her hair a different color or poking fun at a guy for singing a cheesy song at a talent show, look for the positive traits in each person, such as their courage for being able to take risks and do what they wanted to do. By eliminating gossipy comments, you’ll make it that much easier for people to express themselves.

4. Volunteer.Is there really a better way to give back to the community than by volunteering? There are so many ways in every town to lend a helping hand. If you love animals, find out when your local animal shelter needs some extra help. If you love kids, look into becoming a tutor at a nearby elementary school. The opportunities are endless. By volunteering, you are not only helping to improve your community, you are also helping to improve the lives of others who are less fortunate than you. By doing so, you are putting a smile on somebody’s face who otherwise doesn’t get to do it very often. Look at you go!

5.  Put down your cell phone every once and a while.We’ve all done it before. You’ll be conversing with a friend when all of a sudden you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket. Without thinking, you reach for it and answer the message right away. But what we fail to notice is just how rude this little move really is. Why do we let tiny electronic devices run our lives? So I’m calling on you to just put it away for an hour or two every day. During this time away from electricity, focus on your surroundings. If we all unglued our eyes from the tiny, fluorescent iPhone screen, we’d be able to notice so many beautiful things about the world. We could admire the beauty of nature and strike up a conversation with the person next to us. Who knows what kind of possibilities we could unlock when we lock our phones?

Changing the world doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort. Taking little steps every day can really result in progress. So for those of you who want to instill change but never knew how you could do it, the answer is right here. Now get out there make a difference!

I am a student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with two strong passions: education and travel. I plan to combine the two by teaching English abroad after I receive my degree in English education and Spanish education. But for now, I am enjoying my time at IUP and life in general! I feel that a day in which I didn't express myself is a day wasted. I love to develop my music taste by DJing for IUP's radio station. I also really enjoy cooking and adding my own twist to recipes - I hope to make a vegetarian cookbook someday! Finally, I have always had a love for writing, which is how I got involved with Her Campus in the first place. I started as a contributing writer, and now I am a campus correspondent for IUP's chapter of Her Campus. I look forward to working with all of the other students who belong to this great organization and cannot wait to see what will happen when all of our creativity and ideas mix together!
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