…Wherein I play devil’s advocate for a controversial yet justifiable viewpoint.
If you’re in Cleveland, keep reading.
If you’re happy, self-actualized, have a plan, and feel like you’re making good progress on it, then congratulations—keep doing what you’re doing; you can stop reading now.
If you’re unhappy, or if you’ve got an idea that you’re not sure is possible or that you don’t think you’re smart enough to make happen, then step number zero—the hidden step before you do anything else—is get out of Cleveland. It doesn’t matter what step one is. If step one is “get a degree”, then get it somewhere where the climate itself isn’t your enemy. If step one is “make some money”, then make it in a place where you can rely on your extended network to be on your side. There for family? Get your family out of Cleveland.
You’re intelligent and self-aware; you know that something’s not quite right. From the other side, though, I’m telling you: you don’t fully realize how miserable you are, how much your surroundings are weighing you down, or what you’re capable of when that stops being the case. Your effort is precious right now; put more of it into step zero, and see what happens.
The “brain drain” that people talk about in Ohio isn’t a problem; it’s a sign that people are finding themselves with more options. The proper response to it isn’t to try to reverse it by ensnaring more brains. Instead, you should use those options.
I’m not saying that the rest of the world (or any part of it) is just fine. On the contrary, there are huge problems everywhere. That’s why it’s vital—now more than ever—that you intelligent, passionate human beings find a place that’s not trying to stop you from solving them.