Since I wrote the Outtakes on Pensacola Exodus, I’ve received a steady stream of emails on young people that have become discouraged about their futures in Pensacola.
Here is the latest. I’ve taken out some of the author’s personal references to protect his identity:
It’s not just that people are leaving Pensacola. It’s that the smart young people are leaving with plans to never return. Unlike many of my friends, I came back to Pensacola after my bachelors; I deeply regret it.
While I was relegated to jobs that could barely cover my student loan payments, many of my peers went to DC, LA, NYC, and international cities. In the three years since graduation, they’ve made a mark on society; some have their own political newspapers, some are heading political campaigns, some are moving up the corporate ladder, while others are making great strides in research or fund-raising for non-profits.
In the three years since graduation, I, however, have worked for a string a tyrannical, cheap-skate bosses and watched local government absolutely refuse progress. The beach road is still Ivan-ized. Traffic is still a nightmare. The international airport was awarded to Panama City and numerous beneficial factories have been awarded to Alabama, while we sit with eyes closed refusing to see progress, let alone reach out and grab it.
I was going to try to stay in Pensacola. My entire immediate family is here. I love watching my nieces and nephews grow up. I like running into my school teachers at Albertson’s and childhood friends at McGuire’s.
But staying is torturous for me. Absolutely torturous. Pensacola represents pretty much all that I loathe. It’s more than politics and traffic, more than dealing with ignorance and self-righteousness, more than philosophy.
Pensacola is incredibly unkind to its bright, young men and women. Quality entry-level jobs are few and far between, unless you spent four or more years in college to work in sales. I did not and neither did most of my friends.
So we go elsewhere. New Orleans has a brain drain because of a devastating natural disaster. Pensacola has always had a brain drain because it provides little opportunity for young professionals.
Generally speaking, we young people are proponents of progress. Those who stay here want only to see the city improve, but our efforts are blocked by the lazy fools who have held the same, unwaivering, backwards political views for the past 40 years, which, at today’s date, puts their mindset one month before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.
The young are the tech-savvy, the boutique shoppers, the bar and restaurant patrons, the ones with innovative ideas and methods. But instead of being a welcoming place for young professionals, the city seems to treat us like pariahs.
I have had enough. I’m moving. I look forward to my move with eager anticipation of good things to come. But whether or not good things come to me, I hope to never again live in Pensacola, FL.