What are you going to do after high school?

“Go to college and then get a sweet job, duh.”

That was my Millenial response to my parents and friends. When I graduated high school in 2000 (if you’re Granny Millenial, Paulette Perhach, then I’m Pappy Millenial and right at the cut off) the average college graduate was making an average starting salary of $50,000/year. So everyone and their dog pressed you to go to college. There was just one problem. My parents couldn’t pay for me to go to college. But they said I had to go. So I joined the military and had the Army pay for portions of it. It wasn’t until I ended up overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, much like you did joining the Peace Corp, that I realized what an entitled piece of shit I had been. That was eye opening. I came home amazed that I no longer had to burn my own feces, and could take a warm shower.

Post college, I realized I hadn’t learned that much in my graphic design classes or creative writing courses. I got a contract job that paid peanuts because I was just kind of okay at what I did. It was there that I discovered the power of the internet and the free education it offered to further my skills. I read books that trained me on how to handle failure and rejection. I read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and self-improvement to develop my skills as a writer. I found mentors, and I kept clawing my way out of holes I had dug myself into by buying the “world owes me because I’m special” mentality.

All that to be said, my advice to this generation and my peers is the same as yours with a tiny caveat. Starve your sense of security and comfort. If you want to dig yourself out of that hole it will take your security, your stability, your finances, your comfort, and maybe even your life depending on your convictions and faith. Many aren’t willing to give those things up. But the alternative is far worse: an anesthetized life where a false sense of comfort trumps purpose.

Only when you’re willing to starve is when you’ll discover the power to live.

Storyteller | Combat wounded veteran | Metalhead | Designer | Bleeding on a page just makes it more authentic: https://benjaminsledge.com

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