Life After High School: Interview With Adrian Kraft

I’m continuing with Chapter 1 of my blog-to-book project: Life After High School: Secrets To A Successful Life By Those Who Have Had Twenty Years To Think About It or What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. Today I have an excellent interview to share. If you missed the last post, click here, otherwise, you can start at the beginning here.

Adrian Kraft

(Formerly Ballow)

Kirkland, WA

My Life In High School

Adrian Kraft

Who were you in High School and how did you feel about it?

I was a teenager and I thought that was fun. I put effort into things but didn’t worry when I didn’t win or do very well since I considered that I had plenty of time ahead of me to improve and succeed. I valued my family and friends more than anything.

What did you think your life would become when you graduated?

I thought I’d figure it out as it came.

My Life After High School

Adrian Kraft with family

What happened in your life to you, for you, and by you in the last twenty years (how have you used your time and who have you become)?

Went to college – Pepperdine University. Spent half of my undergrad overseas: Heidelberg, Germany, and Paris, France. Graduated with a BA in French literature in 3 years. I had a tough time choosing a major but realized that I had enough credits for a French major, so declared and graduated. Decided to get a Masters in Ministry because of a couple required courses I took in undergrad. I accomplished that in 1 year also at Pepperdine. Wanted to write, but tried out ministry.

Felt ill at ease in church ministry so moved to China to teach English at a University. I was able to be mildly involved in the underground Chinese church. Then I taught English in Hong Kong at a private Catholic elementary school through a British nonprofit called Chatteris Educational Foundation.

Meanwhile, my sister got married and I became an aunt. My brother also married. I was in mainland China during 9-11, which was extremely unsettling due to government control of information and movement and people’s reactions.

I moved back to the states and worked briefly as a nanny in LA for a very wealthy family, which was a terrible job for me. I discovered that wages are insufficient compensation for work.

Fortunately, I found an excellent position at a Pepperdine’s graduate business school where I admired my boss and was able to benefit from the atmosphere by taking free elective courses. After a few terms of business French classes, I was offered a position running Pepperdine’s undergraduate program in Lyon, France. I accepted and moved to France the summer of 2004.

The program was heavily influenced by internal, and possibly international, politics and moved to Lausanne, Switzerland 2 years after I took the job.  During this time my brother got divorced and I had many of the same feelings of isolation that I did while living abroad during 9-11.

I stayed in Lyon another year and earned a French pastry degree, which was wonderful. My immigrant status became an issue and I returned to the states so as not to become an illegal alien.

January 2008 I moved to Seattle where I was a pastry chef and bakery manager until 2015.

Meanwhile, my brother remarried and has a lovely daughter. My other brother also married and has a bright stepson.

In 2013 I married Jerry, and in 2014 I had my son, Petey. We were and are still remodeling our home and expecting another son in November.  The culmination of demanding work, resolved (thank God) health issues, and a child inspired me to quit work. I now tutor part time.

Last winter my dad passed, and that has been a momentous change in my greater family life. We are naming our son after him.

…And then 20 years were gone!

My Life Lessons

What were the major life lessons and wisdom that you gained during your journey over the last 20 years?

The best-laid plans ya-da, ya-da… 

The faithfulness of God is stronger than any adversary.

Boldly going on adventures creates as much energy as any failure extracts.

Letter To My High School Self

If you could write your 18-year-old self (or however old you were when you graduated) a letter, and send it back in time, what would you say? What lessons, wisdom, encouragement, or warnings would you give yourself?

You’re right that there’s time to figure things out. As long as you maintain your integrity, the actual course you choose is really unimportant. (FYI, you end up trying them all, just in case.)

Your family will continue to be the people you care most about, but you will learn so much from others that at times you will be completely free from influence by blood ties.

Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid. The Lord goes with you every day.

…And Jesse Stoddard still has great ideas 20 years from now. 😉 You’ll enjoy having been part of such a dynamic group of kids when you were young for your whole life.

I am including one more interview with Chapter 1. Tune in tomorrow for the incredible journey of Phil Elverum.

Are you from Generation X? I want to hear what you think! Please comment below and participate in the conversation about What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. What do you wish someone told you when you were eighteen?

About the author

Featured in CNN Money Edition, Jesse Stoddard’s primary aim is to make his mark in the world by exploring new ideas, enhancing collaboration and cooperation with teams, and working in his unique ability, which is transferring infectious enthusiasm, taking action, and loving people in order to gather and connect with others to pursue a bigger, brighter future.

Jesse’s mission is to make good bolder with his writing and art, to serve God, and in such a way that he illuminates truth, shines a humorous light on our human imperfections, and reminds us all to be humble while pointing us to what’s right.