What is “The Mold?” I would define it as a set of expectations society places upon its citizens. For me, this is the assumption for young adults recently graduated from highschool: going to college, struggling at entry-level jobs, needing extensive training before starting a career or meaningful work. Not only do I greatly want to defy these expectations, I have begun taking steps to break this mold already.
I’m not going to college. This is not because I’m unambitious, rather because I have thought out my ambition In regards to college, and found that college is the wrong option for me for many reasons.
- College is expensive. Not going allows me to save money during this critical transition from childhood to adulthood while staying out of ever-increasing debt.
- College is largely theoretical. Entering the workforce after highschool has allowed me to learn by necessity how to earn money, budget, schedule my day, interact with employers, satisfy customers, make business connections, work hard, and create value. All these things will be essential for my adult success, and I see no reason to delay them.
- College is ultimately specialized. Though people once attended to become generally well-rounded people, today resources for self-education allow us to meet or surpass that level of well-roundedness before we even graduate highschool. People go to college to get certification that they were trained in a certain skillset; they go to become a doctor, a teacher, a therapist, a writer. They want four years of training to prove they can accomplish a specific task. Whereas I want four years of throwing myself at a task until I can accomplish it. I’ve always had a wide range of interests, and will pursue them on my own while practicing the universal skills of working, communicating, and creating value.
I love my entry level job. I work at Pop-Pop’s Gourmet Treats, a small popcorn company that the owners started out of their kitchen five years ago. In hearing about their small business journey, I am learning about legal restrictions and requirements, commercial kitchen standards, buying ingredients in bulk, packaging and labeling product, profitable pricing, everything! Though I am there to make popcorn, they teach me worlds more.
- I am increasing my responsibility. Early on I learned to pop and sort popcorn, and soon after how to bag and label flavored popcorn to put on the sales floor. I could have stopped there, knowing the useful basics, working when asked. However, I want to be more than minimum. I learned how to print labels, to design and edit them, as well as how to create and add the candy coating to the popcorn, one of the much more complex parts of the process. My plans for the future include creating original designs for our labels, and possibly creating a mascot for ad campaigns.
- I work efficiently. When I began popping, I could fill a large bag of popcorn in an hour and a half. Through learning from other employees and tweaking the process on my own, I have cut this rate down significantly. Last I popped, I filled four large bags in three hours. Multitasking has also allowed me to calculate and reduce how long each batch of candied popcorn takes me, how long it takes to bag many small bags for orders, and what I need to get done between tasks.
- I am always working. I learned how to read and mark our order sheets, so I can continue making and bagging product even when my bosses are not immediately available to give me a task. When we don’t have product ready for bagging or when orders are slow, I wash and put away dishes, always discovering where things go in the kitchen and how to care for them. I have also learned to clean the sales floor and sweep up around the kitchen if no other tasks are more pressing. This discipline alone has been something immeasurably valuable to my employers.
I’m starting my meaningful work now. I am allowing myself to try new projects, put my all into them, and leave the door open for new ventures in the future.
- I’m learning to animate! I’ve always loved and admired animated projects, and wanted to create my own. Online resources show me exactly where to start. In recent months I have animated nearly forty short scenes, learning the basics, and I hope to animate a full music video in the future.
- I’ve begun selling my photography. With the Adobe Stock program, I have uploaded dozens of photos, and sold two. I’m excited to continue improving my work and displaying it for others’ use. In the future I plan to upload and sell my photography on Yours.org, and to offer photography services via this website.
- I’m drawing a children’s picture book. This project will give me experience in book design, formatting, copyright requirements, publishing, and all the work related to marketing and selling my own work.
In all these things, I am gaining personal responsibility in managing my deadlines, performance, and communication. I’ve set up a professional email and can reach out or respond promptly and intelligently. I am composing a calendar to parse out my daily tasks and keep track of projects. Many of these things I have learned and continue to hone by seeking help from those more experienced than me. All in all, I am excited and driven for my own path in the future. This is how I’m breaking the mold.