Former first daughter and humanitarian Chelsea Clinton has added a new job title to her resume: published author. In her new book, It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going, she speaks directly to teens and addresses challenges that young people face in the world today. Chelsea explores steps forward from those challenges and demonstrates how teens have the power to make a huge impact on the world — right here, right now. Check out our exclusive interview with Chelsea Clinton below, and for more, grab an Oct/Nov issue of Justine on newsstands now!
JM: If there were one issue you could solve in the world, which issue would you solve?
CC: I think they’re all important and it’s impossible to pick one because of how interconnected they are. Fighting poverty also means fighting disease, hunger, homelessness (because if you’re sick, hungry or homeless you’re less likely to be able to get and keep a good job) as well as climate change as people living in poverty are generally the most vulnerable to storms and floods. And that’s just one too brief and highly generalized example.
JM: Did your friends treat you any differently when you presented these larger-than-life ideas and possibilities? Did you ever experience any doubt? How did you overcome it?
CC: I think we all live with doubt at some point. The important thing, I think, is asking ourselves questions that help us be more effective and happy in our work in the world. Is this the most effective way to get involved in this issue? Am I making the difference I want to make? Do I feel good about how I am spending my time? Those are important questions to ask ourselves periodically. It’s also important that questioning not become overwhelming or paralyzing; we’ll make more of a difference (and be happier) if we engage in the world somehow than not at all and course-correct when needed.
JM: Social media has become such a prevalent part of teenage lives—the good, the bad and the ugly parts of it. Any advice on a specific way we can use it to build each other up and raise awareness rather than tear each other down? Just how important is it?
CC: Social media is a very powerful tool, helping those of us who use it stay connected to what’s happening in the world as well as what our friends are doing, seeing and saying. It also makes negativity and nastiness easier to circulate. I think the mean and ugly things on social media say a lot about the people spewing them and nothing at all about the recipient. My advice is to take serious criticism from people you respect seriously and to let the rest go. Not worth your time or energy; it’s far better (and more rewarding) to spend that time and energy on social media learning about, promoting and even engaging in work that makes a difference. Sometimes that work can be a lot of fun, even if very cold. Think about what happened with the #ALSIceBucketChallenge that raised more than $100 million dollars relatively quickly through viral social media and YouTube videos of people dumping ice over themselves. That would have been inconceivable a few years ago and is a testament to the best of social media.
JM: This is your first book; how was the whole writing and publishing process for you? Any quirky writing habits?
CC: As I imagine is true for many writers, I wrote far more than what is in the final book and just have to hope it’s stronger for what I left in – and what I took out!
JM: What is your favorite part or chapter in your new book?
CC: I loved learning and writing about all the remarkable kids who are making a difference in their communities and our world. They prove you’re never too young to make a real impact.
JM: With your mom being such a public figure, I’m sure she’s passed on some useful advice to you over the years. What is one thing she taught you that you will pass down to your own daughter?
CC: Goodness, so much. Some I’ve already mentioned – if you can do something, you have to at least try and it’s better to get caught trying. Another family adage from my grandmother (my mom’s mom) is that life is not about what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you, and yet another from my other grandmother is that those of us who are blessed have an obligation to expand the circle of blessings. It’s my job as a parent to help Charlotte understand what those mean and the theme that unites them – and support her in finding her own answers in how to engage positively in the world around her, at every stage of her life. Admittedly she has to learn to walk and read first!
JM: What was your favorite book growing up?
CC: When I was growing up, I loved reading everything from A Wrinkle in Time to The Once and Future King to the Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries to 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save the Earth.