In the course of following up what some of our fellows are up to we stumbled over Luis Alvarado Martinez (The Arc 2012 and Young European of the Year 2014). Right after The Arc the 24-year-old Luis embarked on a journey as president of the European Students’ Forum, one of Europe’s biggest student organisations. He organised projects ranging from peace initiatives in the Caucasus to European campaigns encouraging young people to cast their vote in parliamentary elections. Today we ask him: Who do YOU dare to be and which IMPACT do you want to stand for? – interview by ASTRID SCHRADER

The Arc: You have been an inspiration to countless young Europeans: Is there anything that you are still scared of or are … you totally enlightened?

Thank you for the extremely nice words.  Of course there is! I am scared of many things, the same as everybody else. Fear is a natural part of us and something that we can never get rid off completely.  It is what we choose to do with our fears what I believe builds our character and carves us out as a person.

It is what we choose to do with our fears what I believe builds our character and carves us out as a person.

It is about choosing if you allow your fear to take over you and “win”, which most of the time is the easy way out, or we decide to be aware of that fear, and work parallel with it, and making the conscious choice not to allow it to get in between you and your goals. Be aware of your fears, explore them, find where they are rooted and embrace them. Once we get to know our selves properly and how our fears and decisions have molded what we are today, it is easier to push and to expand your own comfort zone.

The Arc:  When did you have to leave your comfort zone? What was so scary about it?

I try to leave my comfort zone almost every single time I have the chance. My parents once told me that because of fear they had lost great opportunities in their lives and I should learn from their mistakes. I guess I am trying to learn from that. In every single case it turns out that the only thing between you and your goal, is yourself. If we are able to shift our awareness, and understand that everything we need is in our heads, we can stop looking outside and start living the life we want.

My parents once told me that because of fear they had lost great opportunities in their lives and I should learn from their mistakes.

I´ve had to leave my comfort zone many times during the last years and I have many examples: going to live abroad to a country where I don´t speak the language, leaving my home town in an island, presenting candidatures in front of 1000 students at the AEGEE General Assemblies, having to run for President against a fierce competition, having to deal with the every day problems of running the biggest student NGO in Europe, having to speak and convince decision makers in the European Parliament and European Commission in Brussels, having to speak at TV, speak at the United Nations, dealing with team conflicts, accepting truths about myself while receiving feedback, again having to compete with excellent CVs to enter my current Masters program, or even smaller cases on a personal basis of having non solved conflicts with people, non working personal relations and a very long etc. (I think I could go on forever).

Luis Alvarado Martinez_testimonial3

Not everything Is nice and flashy. There is a lot of work, conflict, and personal processes going on, almost on a daily basis, all of which I try to extract teachings and learn from them.

Every single situation, especially when you put it in a European context, with so many different realities, beliefs and ways of working and seeing life, has been a different step towards expanding my comfort zone.

The Arc: Why did you still do it? Can you give us some advice how to be less frightened?

Because it is the only way on continuing walking forward. If we give up to our fears complexes and insecurities, the only one who does not benefit from it and who loses, is yourself.

I leave my comfort zone, because it is the only way of continuing forward.

If we want to be happy, satisfied with ourselves, and not live regretting all the things we never did, we have to work every day to expand our comfort zones. No matter how small the step is, but their needs to be a constantly moving progress. If not, we risk falling into routine, and monotony, which is safe, comfortable, but killing from inside.

My advice would be to, every single time, to recognize when the fear or insecurity appears, to observe it, and in that very moment ask your self: Why wouldn’t I be able to do this right now?

It is still something I use today, when I have to give a speech or a presentation in front of a big audience, and it´s to think to myself, why wouldn’t I be able to nail this speech right now? Why not? Is there anything? NO! So I will be determined to nail it. It just takes 2 minutes for you to ask yourself this question when you identify the fear.

The Arc: Ok, so you have been young European of the Year, president of Europe’s biggest student organisation, deemed the most inspiring European by the members of this organisation – this all happened more or less in the course of 1-2 years. How do you feel about all of this? Can you give any piece of advice to all these young fellows who want to be an inspiration themselves?

My advice would be to believe in you. In my experience, and seen what I have seen and the people I have met and carry on to meet through my journey, there is nothing more vital than self confidence, and even most importantly, blindly believing in yourself.

You might think it’s a cliché of some kind, but …

You might think it’s a cliché of some kind, but if you are able to achieve that, and everybody is, there are no limits to our potential. Believing that something can be done, and imagining it being done, will give you what you need to get it done. Tested and approved.

The Arc: Did The Arc actually play any kind of role in all of this? Or was it just a fun thing to do? (“You can be honest – *aaaaaahhh* – scary *oh oh*”)

Of course it did. I was lucky enough to be involved in the first edition of the Arc. Not only it was incredibly inspiring and motivating. It was a “recharging of energy” before a whole new cycle was starting in my life and most importantly it was eye-opening and transforming in the way I understand myself, my comfort zone, and that potential has no limits when I want it as such. Never in my life I will forget those words: “1) I choose my own reality, 2) You only grow by expanding your comfort zone 3) I haven’t done it until I did it”

The Arc is a transformative training that does not exist anywhere else. Something that you will carry with you for the rest of your days.

So future Arc-ers, use this opportunity as much as possible. Such a transformative training does not exist anywhere else. The elements, and the incredibly prepared trainers which The Arc brings together are definitely something that you will carry with you for the rest of your days. A must in every change-maker´s journey.

The Arc: Ok, last but not least: Luis, who do YOU dare to be and which IMPACT do you want to stand for? (you can improvise!) And what is your first baby step after this conversation?

I dare to be creative, inspired and motivated change-maker wherever I go, and whatever I choose to do in life, transforming reality around me for the better. I dare to challenge myself and keep on growing and achieving my goals, and helping other to achieve theirs. I stand by the impact I choose to set myself, and not the one my fears nor others impose on me.

My not so baby step after this interview is to travel to Italy to get my cycle with my current organisation closed, and start a new one. I will be running in a few weeks for the Vice Presidency of the European Youth Forum, the biggest youth representation platform in the world working for the improvement of the lives of young people in Europe, bringing up the level of challenge, together with finnishing my Masters in the very competitive and intense College of Europe. Challenge accepted. Time to get to it.

The Arc: Thanks, Luis, for the interview. Keep inspiring us!