For the record, no one has asked me to do this. But graduation season is upon us. I graduated college 10(!) years ago, and I started thinking about what I wish I’d been told. If there’s anyone who needs a dose of honesty, it’s young people being thrust out into the world.
If I gave a speech to today’s graduates, here’s what I’d say:
If you graduate law school and realize a year later that you don’t want to be an attorney, it’s okay to change paths. Deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life at age 22 is bullshit.
Hangovers get worse with each passing year. You may wake up fine tomorrow, but, by 32, you’ll beg the devil to drag you to hell instead of dealing with one more agonizing moment. Take it from me: you don’t need that last glass of wine.
I live in a town of people obsessed with retiring. They build their entire lives around it. It’s important to plan and save, but the unfortunate truth is that not all of us will live to see that day. Maybe you get hit by a bus on the way to your retirement party. We aren’t promised tomorrow, so it’s imperative to enjoy today.
People will never remember what you wore, what you drove, if you were wearing makeup, if you forgot deodorant (maybe that part…). But they will remember how you treat them. I will never forget the people who have been rude to me. It’s human nature to remember the bad, isn’t it? Doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven them. But it does we don’t forget.
It’s okay to take a sick day every now and then. It’s good for your mental health.
A long walk and a hot shower are good for the soul and mind.
Mondays are hard. Try to find a career that makes them less so.
Life does not care about your plans. The control-freak in you might think you have it all together, but then life will throw you a curveball: you lose your job. You lose your spouse. You lose an arm or a leg. You lose your house. You have to learn to roll with the punches and focus on the good or you won’t last long in this crazy world.
You will be humbled. When I graduated college, I expected everyone to hire me simply because I had a degree. But so did everyone else. You have to learn to stand out. There will always be someone smarter, better looking, and more talented. It’s not easy to hear, but the quicker you realize it, the better off you will be. Remember: we’re not too good to work at Taco Bell.
Do not base your happiness on someone else. Being in a relationship is hard. You will argue. You will face garbage times. And you have to learn to be okay alone.
You’re going to disappoint people. And they’re going to disappoint you. We’re human.
Much of adulthood is stepping in wet puddles on the floor and wondering which appliance is leaking this time. Don’t let it surprise you.
Owning a home is the American Dream. It is great and freeing and a worthy investment but sometimes your water heater busts or the shitters full and you can’t just call the landlord. Because you ARE the landlord.
When you live on your own, you have to clean up after yourself. This includes cleaning the toilet after you’ve had a stomach virus. That’s why you should always thank your mom and dad.
Don’t base your life on a timeline. There’s not a “right” time to find your dream career. Or significant other. Or have a child. Or travel. Have faith in the process. And it’s okay if those things don’t happen. There are other ways to be happy. Success and happiness look different for each of us.
Take care of your health. Exercise. Eat (mostly) right. Limit alcohol and red meat and sugar. Drink lots of water. Go to the doctor. Get plenty of sleep. But also live a little. Remember when Kate Moss said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”? Please. Have you ever seen that woman smile? I haven’t. Think she could use a slice of pizza or cake. Also, I am not skinny. But I smile a lot.
Always say yes to brunch.
Laugh every day. Some days are complete shit and you think you won’t make it through. You will. Think back to a funny memory, watch a silly video, think about people farting. Whatever it takes.
Let children teach you about simple joys. Bubbles. Swinging. Swimming. Eating a popsicle. Watching airplanes and birds. These are all things my 4-year-old niece loves, and I smile just thinking about them.
The easiest way to put a duvet cover over a down comforter is to put the duvet on inside out. You’re welcome.
You’re never too old to start over. Some people will have life figured out in their 20s, but it takes some of us a little longer. That’s okay.
Take a chance. Sometimes you’ll be rejected. But sometimes you won’t. I’ve been passed over for promotions, for jobs, for freelance work, for blog collaborations, for dates, for friendship. It hurts. But I’m always proud of myself for trying.
Get a hobby. Start a blog, start a podcast, write a book, run, fish, decorate, read, paint, sculpt, plant, brew beer, sew, practice yoga. We all need an escape from the mundane.
Never be embarrassed by your career or hobby. Be proud.
Don’t hide who you are. Most people will see through bullshit. And you’ll be much happier if you’re true to yourself… warts and all.
What advice would you give to graduates?