It is that time of year when students become adults and look forward to the horizon of opportunity, their future uncertain of all but that it is in their own hands. It is a time of poignant reflection and of goodbyes to old friends. It is a time of endless possibilities and new friendships. But, more than anything else, it is a time of saccharin advice and philosophical posturing, as that inevitable transition to adulthood makes us feel as though something must be said. Everyone seems to have that one bit of advice that will somehow stick with you through that drunken blur of poor decisions called college life.
Don’t get me wrong; I like advice. I like good advice. But too often, we prefer to have our advice wrapped up into neat little packages with pretty little bows on top, and while the box is pretty, it’s usually empty. So, in the spirit of imparting actual wisdom, here is some advice for graduates.
1) Most of your life is still ahead of you, so don’t screw it up. You had the last 18 years to be an idiot, and if you haven’t gotten it out of your system… Well, you’re probably like the rest of us. But seriously, keep the dumb-assery to a minimum, okay? Some mistakes can follow you the rest of your life and affect people you haven’t even met yet.
2) Life is going to kick you in the balls. It is a reality. In fact, you should hope that it does, and hard, because failure–pain– is one of the greatest teachers you’ll ever meet.
3) Have a friend. Make a new friend. Keep an old friend. As nauseous as it makes me to write this, it’s true; people are good to have around. They aren’t so bad once you get past all the messy, bug-the-crap-out-of-you-with-all-they-say-and-do crap. And the older you get, the more energy it takes to make good friends, so find one and hold on to them for dear life. If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that everything will, in the end, fail you. When you find someone who can look past your failings, and you can look past theirs, you can face the rest together. Oh, that was wretchedly sentimental; let’s move on.
4) You don’t know anything. This is a tough one to master. Most adults are without the capacity to humble themselves long enough to learn something. There is always more to learn. Always. And it takes humility to admit you don’t know so you can learn. It’s a matter of humility. Otherwise, see #2