You know that feeling you get when you’ve been working on something for a long time – something that takes you forever, forever-ever, forever-ever?? I recently finished my penultimate grad school paper (that’s how I know fancy terms like “penultimate” and “forever-ever”). And it feels good y’all! I guess I like graduating so much, I'm trying to do it one-more-again. Did you grad-u-matate from high school or college!? Tis the season for that, after all. Does it feel good, y’all? It should! Congratulations, smarty pants. You did it! I'm trying to get like you! Now, please allow me to be real with you about what comes next. Can I? Never mind, you’re grown now, you can handle it….
When I left undergrad, I was high on hope and optimism and good vibes and life and stuff. Wait…not stuff. Please don’t take that the wrong way. There was no stuff…I don’t condone stuff. I digress; my hopes and cotton candy dreams were quickly dashed when I got into what is known as the ‘real world’. That elusive place everyone has been mentioning for the past 4 years. Basically, I feel it’s my job as your Internet friend (or maybe not friend. Perhaps just the chick you occasionally check on because you’re waiting for them to call your name at the dentists office and you want to surf the interwebz since all the pictures in the Highlights magazine have been circled by some clearly inconsiderate 10 year old) to tell you all the things I wish someone would have told me before I exited high school and undergrad. Take notes. Here we go:
For the High School Graduate
1. Everything you did in high school doesn’t matter. We’re you a cheerleader? Cool! Were you smarter than everyone? Awesome! No one cares. No one in college knows who you are. Take it as the coolest opportunity in the world to work from a clean slate. Make friends you wouldn’t have, try activities you wouldn’t have. Shake off all of the bad experiences and build from what you learned from the good ones. It is a level playing field.
2. College is a bubble. It is not real life. Class responsibility is real. The stress is real. But it ends. It is not the same stress as real-world stress. Take that in. Be thankful. Relish it.
3. College is FUNNNNN (mad funnn) if you do it right. Try to do it right.
4. Have the funnnn, but also remember you are there to learn. You have to get a job after this. You might want to know some stuff. Work hard.
5. Listen to your girl, K. Mo on this one. Are you listening?? --- Pay CLOSE attention to financial aid. Apply for ALL the Scholarships!! If they are giving out scholarships for people who can play coronet with their toes…you find a coronet, dangit, and you learn hot crossed buns with your big toe! Do it!
6. For all my fellow introverts and/or shy people: the easiest way to make new friends is to find an established group on campus that does something you’re into and force yourself to hang around it. Even if you have to start out attending their meetings and sitting in the corner like a weirdo, do it. It’s important. You won’t be the weirdo in the corner for long. Push yourself to talk.
7. Don’t judge people. Everyone is trying to find himself or herself. It can be a very messy process.
8. Go to every event that has free food. These events are your friend. Free food is your friend. Always. Take a plate with you back to your room. Someone will probably judge you for it. You don’t care. They may judge you, but your leftovers won’t.
8.5. Read this blog. Tell your friends.
9. Relationships are meant to build you up. This goes for friendships and the romantical kind. If it is not building you up, it is tearing you down. You don’t need it. Let it go. No, it's not just that easy. Yes, it hurts. Do it anyway.
10. Did I say have fun yet?? Have all of the fun.
|Little K. Mo's undergrad graduation. Wearing someone else's robe - hence the bigness of it all.|
For The College Graduate
1.You probably won’t find a job the second you graduate. Even if you do, it probably won’t be your dream job. You might even hate it. Learn what you can from it. If you find yourself working at Cinnabon even though you have a degree, don’t worry, it won’t be forever. Also, let me know. I would like the hook-up on a free Cinnabon.
2.You might find a job the second you graduate. It might be your dream job. You are blessed. You are in the minority. Be grateful.
3. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do when you grow up. Most grown-ups don’t know what they want to do when they grow up. So part of being a grown-up is figuring out exactly what kind of grown up you want to be. It gets frustrating. Keep trying.
4.Life won't go exactly how you planned or pictured. Things will trip you up. Things you had your heart set on won't work out. Sometimes it's just for the time being. Sometimes it's because the thing you want isn't what you need - you just don't know it yet. In the mean time, make the most of what you have.
5. Do stuff! Go to parties, socialize (which, in grown people world, is now called networking), have happy hours with friends. (Or sad hours. It’s up to you. They are your hours, after all.) You guys are basically real grown ups now. Do sophisticated type ish.
6. Take risks. Now is the time. You are young. If you do something really stupid, you still have plenty of life to recover from it.
6a. I mean try not to be stupid but, sometimes, crazy dreams require crazy actions. People won’t understand them. That’s o.k.
7. Don’t let a man/woman/boyfriend/girlfriend define you. Now is the time to define yourself. They should be supportive. And sometimes support looks a lot like space.
8. Read this blog. Tell your friends.
9. Go somewhere! You (probably) don’t have a career keeping you tied down yet. Take trips. See sunsets. Eat everything. Also, alliteration.
10. Be real with yourself. Who do you want to be? What are you doing that’s hurting your chances of becoming that? Figure it out. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Correct it. Move on. You will repeat this process in life approximately 509,436,343 times. This is an estimate. It is a low one.
11. If you keep a couple of good friends you made in school close after graduation, kudos. It will be because you put in the work to do so. Many friends drift off…some are supposed to. Fight for the ones you really love. Make an effort to make time. If you keep ALL of your good friends you made in high school or college close after graduation – you are a unicorn.
12 – 58. Try not to cry when you realize how much money you owe…try.
What do you think about the list? Anything you identify with? What would you add to either list??
Most importantly – be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished thus far and remember that the best thing you can do if life gets you down is to keep going. It sounds ridiculously simple, I know. But it’s important. Work really hard on your dreams. The reward will come in the end, even if it's not how you thought it would look. The rest is up to you, you intelligently beautiful beast. As I like to say, go forth and be fresh!