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.

Global learnings

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.

Some remarquable answers from the entire world

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Have you ever wondered how your life will end? I often obsessively worry about it. Am I doing the right things now to be where I need to be when I'm old? Where do I want to be when I'm old? Am I working at the right job? Am I working hard enough? Am I being social enough? What if I get sick? What if the car breaks down and I can't pay my bills? What if I can't live here anymore? What if I lose my job? What's my plan? Okay, so my fears got progressively darker, but what can I say? I worry a lot! I try to pretend I'm optimistic, but deep down, I assume everything is going to go wrong at every turn.
Man, 24Malawi
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I worry that I won't have the motivation and drive to achieve my goals and live up to my potential. I worry that I won't be able to stay focused on the things that matter to me, and that I won't be able to make the best possible decisions for my future. I worry that I won't be able to stay positive and motivated and that I will become complacent and feel like I'm not making any progress.
Man, 24Democratic Republic of the Congo
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When I think about the future what worries me personally is the analysis of not being able to solve future problems due to certain lack of knowledge through studies limited in our dispositions for lack of means. In addition, I am worried about the behavior displayed by the youth who are qualified as irresponsible for being able to take responsibility in their own hands.
Man, 18Pakistan
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When I think about the future, I worry about my own health and happiness. I worry that I won't be able to stay healthy as I get older, and that I'll be unhappy in my later years. I worry that I won't be able to enjoy my retirement, and that I'll end up alone and isolated.
Woman, 24Tunisia
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How I can live and reproduce in a world that is in a constant danger, from the spoiled nature. There is an alarming threat that is blatant still people don't see it from nature. I am also concerned about the minority, and how they can survive through all this bullying they face everyday and is almost atomized.
Woman, 18Portugal
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And I'm afraid of becoming mediocre and mechanized like most people today, who live in constant turmoil, absorbed in a sea of information and social networks and hate. I'm afraid I won't be able to silence the world and become another clone of the system and modern society.
Woman, 19Russia
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Career opportunities. We live in a new era of technological progress where information is available for almost everyone and that is why people learn faster. As a result, competition to get the job is very high. People sometimes just struggle to get the job they want. Workplaces are limited and the world population is giant.
Woman, 18Portugal
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And I'm afraid of becoming mediocre and mechanized like most people today, who live in constant turmoil, absorbed in a sea of information and social networks and hate. I'm afraid I won't be able to silence the world and become another clone of the system and modern society.
Man, 28South Korea
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One concern I have is the uncertainty of what the future holds, especially considering the rapid technological advancements and changes in the job market. Will I be able to adapt and keep up with these changes? Will I be able to achieve the balance in life that I strive for?
Woman, 22Brazil
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I fear that people will start to hate each other more, that they will segregate themselves, that the quality of life and access to education and culture will be elitist. I fear that we humans are responsible for our own extinction.
Woman, N/AEl Salvador
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It worries me living in a world where I feel not seen or heard, and as a woman I know sometimes I'm going to face that situation more than 1 time.
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What worries me is that my years of study will go to waste, and that I will not find a job opportunity with my degree, not for the sake of money, but rather out of love for the mission of education and the specialty that I loved and studied.
Woman, 23Philippines
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When I think about the future, I worry about failing. In the present, I feel so pressured since I am the eldest of my siblings. I feel the pressure of providing for my family. And I worry about making mistakes and failing to fulfil my responsibilities.

Interviews from all over the world