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So, I think most of us are part of some kind of system, a frame. Mine was ---> Finish the school, Get a job, Start a family.

And then what?

There are all sorts of frames and fine layers between but I`d say, in my case, those were the basic ones. It`s like collecting coins in a video game – once you are well educated, you get from Level 1 to Level 2. Once you get a job, you`re on Level 3. And once you start a family you`re Level PRO! Of course, you collect the coins along the way but basically, this is it!

I always had a thing for rules! I love rules! I think we need them!

But, what happens when you start feeling limited because of the rules? When you feel like you can`t achieve your fullest potential because some rules don`t work in your favour? When you feel like your spirit is limited. Your opinion is limited. When you feel like YOU are limited. How could this be, rules are here to help us, to make things easier, right?

If you`re lucky, like I was, one day you`d wake up and decide to turn your back to limitations. Limitations in every form! The luxury I had - being in a position not to worry about my life quality dropping down - was such a blessing! I knew it then. I know it now.

And there I was. Following new rules, ones that matched my values. I was getting to know ME, getting to know new version of ME. Following MY path. Listening to my soul.

It was in that moment I realized I wanted to be part of something big. Not ocean big, but a drop big! Part of something meaningful. Part of making a difference.

So many amazing things happened once I allowed myself to be myself. I wasn`t looking for meaningful things, yet somehow, they managed to find me. As if there had been an amazing balance established between my personal values and the real world values. Nothing was difficult, and nothing was ugly…! How many times have we been told that we have to work hard for something? I know I have. But here I was. Everything seemed so easy, and so right at the same time. How was this even possible?

I heard of YouthBank, the work they do and how they do it. It opened up a whole new world for me. Mostly because no one ever asked young people what they wanted. Young people were always being told what to do, they were the ones facing expectations set by adults. And YouthBank? YouthBank stands for the opposite – asking young people what THEY want, how THEY feel, what THEY think…. Was this real? I was lucky enough to find my own path, but what if I hadn`t? How many other young people don`t? How many of them end up collecting coins over and over again? And I just found out about this? That there are communities even?

Communities of young people making a difference!

Standing out for themselves!

Deciding what matters!

Being part of YouthBank team still feels surreal. I am learning new things every day, which is not difficult once you have amazing and inspiring people as your teachers! We bring change into someone`s life every day. Every day we make a difference. And every day, someone, just like me, or just like you, gets to achieve its fullest potential. Just because YouthBank exists.

How did I end up here? I don`t see it as the end, I see it as the beginning.

Katja Palaic

Photo credit: Amer Mughawish, Unsplash


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