Question box #3
When I think about the future, what worries me... for myself
Photo: Joanna Nix
The subject of this question invited young people to talk openly about very personal matters. Their remarkably detailed answers covered a vast spectrum of subjects and were proof of their capacity for critical thinking and their wish to make a genuine contribution to this consultation. Some particularly difficult and delicate subjects were addressed with touching sincerity.
When young people are asked about their worries for the future, fear of failure is the predominant fear to emerge (23%). Participants seem to be haunted by the specter of not realizing their dreams or achieving their goals, or, more generally, by the thought of failure as such. At the same time, a more nuanced concern also comes to the surface: that of not reaching their full potential, of making the wrong choices or having regrets, or even of not having a positive impact on the world.
17% of participants are worried about their future financial situation. This includes a fear of not being able to make ends meet, as well as other fears regarding inflation, the economic situation, access to housing, poverty, and debt.
Their career and work in general worry 11% of respondents. Their concerns tend to revolve around three different themes: fear of losing or not finding a job, fear of not finding fulfillment in their work, and more general worries about their professional situation.
Fewer than 10% of participants expressed worries about their health or well-being, be it physical, mental or emotional, or for their family and friends (9%). Fears about their family circle or close friends, the loss of a loved one, their inability to meet family expectations, as well as child-related matters, are also matters of concern.
Fears about the future in general, and more particularly the uncertainty that goes with it, as well as about their future identity and potential difficulties finding their place in society, are mentioned.
Problems that might be seen as global issues (the environment, societal problems, insecurity, instability, and conflicts) came further down the list, in the middle (ranking 8-10-11). It would seem that, for this question, participants did not always see the connection between an external, more systemic threat (global warming, war, etc.) and its potential impact on their everyday lives, focusing more on things that are a direct source of concern for them personally (success, financial or work situation, for example).
Overview of the main themes
You will find below a graph in which you can navigate to learn more about the themes brought by the participants. Each theme (also called “cluster”) relates to an idea expressed by participants. There are two types of clusters: macro-clusters, which relate to more general categories, and sub-clusters, which break down the ideas into finer detail and are attached to macro-clusters. The percentages displayed correspond to the number of participants who have written about this theme among all participants who answered the question. For readability, only clusters cited by more than 1% of participants are displayed.
The representation below is dynamic: tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters.
Differences between world regions
From financial issues in the West to fear of failure across the continents
Many of the young people questioned are obsessed with the idea of personal failure, which hangs like a shadow over them and is the most frequently mentioned source of worry in practically all the regions studied, with the notable exception of Europe and North America, where financial concerns prevail.
Thus, the lexical fields relating to personal finances, the economic situation, inflation, the cost of living, or access to housing and debt are used much more in the West than in the rest of the world. In these other regions, a vocabulary more associated with a fear of not being able to realize one’s dreams, of failure in general or of not managing to reach one’s full potential to have a positive impact on the world, appears to take precedence.
When we compare the number of contributions related to each of these two main concerns—failure versus financial situation—in each region, we find significant differences. For example, in North America, their financial situation is mentioned in 33% of contributions, whereas only 14% talk about fear of failure. Contrastingly, in the Middle East and North Africa, failure appears in 37% of contributions, as against fewer than 10% for their financial situation.
Subjects related to careers and professional development are topical across all regions except the African continent. Some regions, however, stress specific concerns: in East Asia and the Pacific, education is a source of worry, whereas Europe is more preoccupied by the environmental crisis and North America by health.
Tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters to compare regions.
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