Election Day is in a week. 7 days until we choose a new leader, a new movement, a new tomorrow.

Both candidates have drastically different views about what direction America should take, and all of America has drastically different views on which directions the candidates should take. Once, there was a sense of excitement, pride, and enthrallment that came with one’s first election. The year you were finally able to vote, you felt like you had a say in an entire country.

Today, the excitement and enthusiasm has drastically been reduced due to the polarized candidates, negative associations with the concept of “politics”, and the difficulty of interacting with people who hold other opinions. 1 in 4 individuals ages 18-35 in a poll presented by USA College Today would rather humankind be wiped out by a giant meteor than elect either Clinton or Trump.

This is not how a presidential election should be. This is not how a republic should be. This is not how America should be.

But it is where we are. As much as we strive to deny the facts and the dismal truth, reality is reality, and no amount of complaining is going to change that. When viewed from many perspectives, our impending doom is inevitable. How could there possibly be promise for a nation that is so deeply broken? How could there possibly be hope for a country that is seemingly unable to drag itself from the depths of debt and distrust? The United States may have momentum, but it isn’t in the right direction.

Change is coming, however, and a fire is beginning to spark across our gray nation.

The youth of America are part of a new revolution, a new hope, a new future. The United States will dwell far beyond the tumultuous election that approaches and even further beyond the months and years after. The young girl riding her bike to school next Thursday morning might be leading a Fortune 500 company in 30 years. The boy who always waves to cars as they pass by his bus might be a governor someday. The college students who ask you what your order is at that small coffee shop you love might be filling White House positions soon. The high schoolers who sell wrapping paper to fundraise for their senior trips might someday work with nonprofits that help impoverished families in America and third world countries. The youth of America are also the hope of America.

The vulgarities included in the reality that is 2016 may have an oppressive atmosphere, but the trials that we as millennials face are nothing but inspiring. We are tired of being told to sit and listen, behave and accept, and never question what is handed to us. Leadership is no longer a game of age, experience, manipulation, and power; rather, it is being grasped by millennials, and the revolution of responsibility and radical intentionality are taking over my generation.

Keep striving, friends.

Now is the time to redefine adolescence and take control of our future. Age is nothing compared to the ingenuity and determination that is possible within the human mind. Unite, discuss ideas, educate yourself and one another, better yourselves, fight for what you believe, and never yield to those who say we are unable to change America into a nation that thrives once more.

To every American: when you see the future of the United States, what do you see? Do you see more elections filled with contempt and shame and brokenness, more protests, more disgust, more conflict? Or can you imagine a time where justice and patriotism set a tone of unity and ambition, a time where the leaders are true and willing to sacrifice for their nation?

The future of America is shining as brightly as the faces that are stepping up and taking responsibility in the coming years. Everyone will not feel the same way, but I want to encourage you to think differently. See past November, December, next year, even 2020. See past today, and view the broad horizon of potential that surrounds our nation. Look towards the hope we have.

When you think of the future of the United States, think of your children, your neighbors, your nieces and nephews.

When you think of the future of the United States, think of me.