It’s that time of year again. The time when your news feed for every social media account you own, begins to become flooded with articles and blog pieces about graduation and the inevitable, goodbye. Pieces titled “25 Things to Do Before You Graduate,” or “How To Really Live It Up.” Or my personal favorite, “How to Avoid Adulthood,” accompanied by a completely unrelated picture of a young girl in a sundress walking through a field of wheat staring into the sun. Because in case you weren’t aware, walking through a field of wheat, staring into one of the hottest stars on this planet, permanently damaging your eye-sight, means you do not have to grow up.
Then…. two days later another slue of articles begins to flood your newsfeed again, completely contradicting those fun and “live it up” pieces. With titles such as, “25 Places to Apply to Before You Graduate,” or “Why You Need to Grow Up..Now,” or “Your Life Has Started and You Missed the Train.”
Holy Sh!t, can we stop?
First off, no one takes trains anymore, Amtrak is sketchy as hell. So you didn’t miss anything.
Second, taking advice from a complete stranger, is the reason why Wall Street is so successful. Penny stocks will not make you a millionaire, Mr. Wolf of Wall Street. These articles are nothing more than a quick high to make you think you should live it up for two days and then forty-eight hours later, pour a cup of tea, turn on some Lana Del Ray and second guess all your life decisions.
So what you’re about to read, is not that. It is not a list of things to do or how to properly say goodbye. And it is not an article telling you to spend all your graduation money on tattoos and a trip to Cancun and completely forget about the real world. This is an article letting you know….you’re perfectly fine. You’re in your twenties and you have more friends than you could ever hope for, but you also feel more alone than you ever will. That’s normal.
So, if you want to stress about not having a job, stress. Buy a dozen doughnuts on your credit card you haven’t paid off and proof-read your resume until you get tired of reading about yourself. You got your diploma on Saturday and Saturday night you moved back into your childhood room. Complete with the Spice Girls poster and middle school yearbook that house pictures of your bowl cut, embrace your youth, but know you’re past those times. You’ve been accepted into graduate school, and this is your reminder that you’re going to do great. You’re a rockstar.
The only thing I will tell you to do. The one thing that I will say you have to do. Is do what makes you happy.
It is really that simple and that cliche. If hiking the Appalachian Trail and avoiding a monthly pay check is for you, do it. If working with inner-city children and barely making enough to pay rent is for you, do it. If running around the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is for you, do it. If being a stay-at-home mom at twenty-two is for you, do it. Do what ever makes you happy. It is your life. Not mine. Because this world is full of people who will enjoy the ride and then there are people who will determine the ride. And it is perfectly acceptable if you want to coast through life and it is equally okay if you want to do the exact opposite.
Saying goodbye to college is inevitable. Your childhood will eventually pass and all the freedom you had at seventeen will quickly disappear like the rise and fall of Flappy Bird. No pun intended.
Because no one ever tells you what you really need to know about college. That generic laundry detergent is half the price and does the same job as Downy. That you’re going to study all night for a biology test and still fail it. That you’re going to end a relationship because you had a stressful week and it might be the biggest regret of your college career. That you should work out five days a week, no matter how tired you are, because your health is the most important thing. That you’re going to make friends with a computer science and music major who’s laugh is so contagious you wish you could bottle it up and save it for a rainy day. That things really do get better. That you will switch your major….four times. That Taco Bell is always a good idea. That when you were ten years old and your parents told you to “Do whatever makes you happy,” they really meant to say, “Do whatever makes you happy and pays the bills.” That the best memories you will have from college are the ones you spent sober. That you will finally figure out that you want to be an international political journalist, but the only stories people will pay you for, are articles about retirement communities and indie music festivals. And that no one is out to get you…everyone’s out for themselves.
Take what you want from life but do it a favor and give back to it. Because even under the best of circumstances, there’s just something so damn tragic about growing up. But you did it, you’re here, and you’re doing great.