Dear Young Freedom Lover,
When I first got involved in promoting liberty as a student, I had no idea where the movement would take me. Everything was new, and every day held another opportunity to meet interesting people, attend an event, engage with a new thinker, and see a new possibility for my future.
Although I eventually dropped out of college, I’ve stayed involved in the student movement, and through my work with Praxis I’ve had the chance to speak to hundreds of libertarians from all over the world at a similar stage in life as you.
You’re excited. You want to make a difference. You love ideas, but you’re craving something more. I’ve noticed some common themes in my talks with them. You’re excited. You want to make a difference. You want friends and community. You love ideas, but you’re craving something more. You’re unsure about your place in the world. You’re frustrated by the state of things and feel like you aren’t having as big of an effect as you could be. I was there once too.
Here are some things I wish I had been told when I first began my journey that will help you out:
• This is going to be one of the most exciting, stimulating, and enriching times of your lives. It won’t last forever. Some of the novelty will end. Relax, enjoy it, and make the most of your opportunities.
• Make use of your youth. There are unsung benefits to being the young, inexperienced person in the room. More experienced libertarians will go out of their way to put you in positions where you can grow if you’re just interested and interesting.
• Don’t limit your education to the college campus. Attend FEE or IHS seminars, SFL or YAL conferences, FIRE workshops, Voice & Exit, and meetups. Read books and participate in online courses. These will do far more for your intellectual development than the classroom.
• Spend some time away from the books to learn some hard skills. They’ll open doors for you in the movement that ideas alone cannot.
• Whenever possible, back your criticism up with an act of creation. Start a blog. Write an article or a book, give a talk, or build an alternative to a current mode of operation. Freedom is advanced more by the creators than the critics.
• Get involved in business and entrepreneurship. There’s no reason you have to choose between a life in the market and the life of ideas. You can and should do both. You can make a difference with both. Start a business or do a program like Praxis or KAP. Start it now while you’re young.
• Guard your personal brand. Before you cause a scene with another libertarian in the movement with whom you disagree, ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
• Stop viewing freedom only in the abstract. Ask yourself, “What would I do with the freedom I say I want?” Then go do it. Chances are there is some way to make it happen.
• Don’t be so quick to reject the old thinkers because it’s fashionable. They’re part of our history and we can learn much from them. Learn that history. It will give you education, perspective, and appreciation.
Life is getting better. Don’t let the trouble around you kill your optimism.• Steer clear of declinist views about the world. Life on the whole is getting better. Despite the challenges we see, the world is a wonderful adventure and you’re part of it. Don’t let the trouble around you kill your optimism.
• On the same note, we are not entitled to that future. Be an active participant in its creation, not just someone who talks about it online.
• Ask yourself: “Am I saying this because I want to signal and posture about what’s popular in the moment, or because I actually believe it and it needs to be said?” Hold your tongue or speak accordingly.
• Learn to write and communicate for the real world. Simplify, simplify, simplify. You’ll impress people far more with the quality of your ideas than the complexity of your prose.
• Be radical, but don’t let your radicalism alienate you from the world around you. There’s a time and place for “taxation is theft” and it’s probably not your job interview.
• Don’t feel guilty for taking a break from the movement. Inspiration and energy comes in ebbs and flows. You can always jump back in.
Most importantly, remember that liberty is first and foremost about individual human flourishing. Don’t let your focus on the external world and the lives of others let you neglect your own personal development. Keep yourself healthy, build meaningful relationships, travel, fall in love, create businesses or art, and make yourself the change you wish to see in the world.
Derek Magill is a college dropout, marketer, business strategist and career expert. He is currently the Director of Marketing at Praxis and has consulted with companies such as Voice & Exit, the Foundation for Economic Education, Glockstore, Colliers International, Daily Caller, and Undertech.
Derek is the author of How to Get Any Job You Want.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.