It is that time of year again, graduations and the end of the school year. As it’s been chillier and damper then usual this spring, it doesn’t feel like early May yet. It still feels like early April to me. This year will mark twenty years since I graduated high school and fifteen since I graduated from college. My class is having their twenty year reunion this summer. As I have a family reunion out of state during the same weekend, I won’t be able to do both. Haven’t decided which one I’m going to yet. I haven’t been to any of my class reunions besides the five year.
I guess I just don’t have much in common with some of my old classmates or people in my childhood hometown. Sure I had cool friends and enjoyed school activities like playing football and doing speech. Yet I never felt like I really fit in back during my younger days. Could have had problems with paranoia even as a child. It also didn’t help that I spent the last two years of high school with a developing mental illness and not seeking help for it. But we didn’t know back then. We didn’t have the information easily available to us twenty years ago, certainly not like now. I definately loved college, in part because I was seeking help and getting regular treatments.
I am trying to get out of the habit of offering recent graduates advice other than “stay flexible.” I don’t tell anyone what career fields to look into anymore. For beginners, we don’t know what jobs will be in demand in ten years anymore. Many people can’t afford even going to state university without going into heavy debt anymore. I’m glad I had good scholarships in college and got help from home. I graduated debt free and that has saved my hide more than once.
It’s sad that so many people have crushing debts from school before they even begin a career. I have far too many friends struggling with student debts even in their thirties. And it’s absolutely asinine and unforgivable that student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. I don’t think college is viable for most kids anymore simply because of how out of control the costs have become. An eighteen year old right out of high school would be better off doing an apprenticeship, going to trade school, or joining the military in most cases it seems. Some kids might be better off moving overseas and looking for work in East Asia or Europe anymore. A college friend of mine teaches high school in Netherlands and absolutely loves it as far as I can tell. A cousin of mine lived in Japan for three years while her husband was stationed over there in the military. It might not be such a bad idea. National borders mean less now than they did even twenty years ago.
I try not to offer advice, not because I don’t care. It’s because we no longer know what the future holds, at least not in terms of in demand careers. I blog on a regular basis yet that was in it’s early days when I was in high school and college. Youtube or social media didn’t exist when I was in high school. Amazon was just getting started in the 1990s. And of course smart phones didn’t exist and AI was nowhere near as good as it is now. Renewable energy tech like wind and solar are becoming more affordable and in many cases now competitive with old style fossil fuels. That wasn’t the case even fifteen years ago. While many older jobs are definitely going away or getting drastically reduced, there are likely going to be others taking their place. What if instead of economic Armageddon we were actually heading for one of the biggest industrial and economic booms in history? What if instead of ecological collapse we solved the problems of air and water pollution? We have people working on those problems, and many others as I write this. I once read that in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s, more self made millionaires were made in that decade than in any other before that. Yet we often think it was a hellish time. For many people, it was. Yet for others, it was a time of opportunity as well.
It seems to me that during times of distress and upheaval (like we are living now) there are also opportunities as well. I may be mentally ill, but I also have an outlet to talk about it and hopefully offer help others that I didn’t have in my younger years. I have pretty decent treatments when had I grown up in my grandmother’s generation I would have spent the rest of my life in an institution or prison. Sure I have gained a lot of weight over the course of this illness and my physical health has declined, yet I still have a sharp mind and am stable in spite the illness. Overall I’m pretty happy. Maybe not all the time, but then no one is continually blissful at all times anymore than people are always physically healthy. I doubt I would have ever become a blogger if I didn’t become mentally ill.