To all the graduates: this week may be the first time you’ve ever had nothing planned in front of you.
In elementary school, you had middle school.
In middle school, you had high school.
In high school, you had college.
But after college then what?
There’s no structure in place anymore and I’ve seen it really worry some of my friends.
Part of this immense pressure is made up because of expectations from parents, from your peers, and from yourself. You feel like everyone knows what they are doing and everyone else expects you to know exactly what your next step is. I mean, every time you run into a family member or friend, they always ask about what you’re doing after graduation. So you can’t avoid this conversation.
I’ll let you in on a secret.
I don’t know what the path ahead looks for me. I have a general idea of how I want to approach the next two months after graduation, but that’s it.
I know that I:
- want a job
- am taking a summer physics class
- want to optimize my fitness and health
- have some personal projects I want to complete
But I don’t have the information of where I’ll be, who I’ll be working with, or what kind of money I’ll be making in two months.
And it’s that desire for information that causes such anxiety in a lot of people. We crave that information, but we have to be okay with that uncertainty.
Because like author Mark Manson of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck says: finding your path isn’t straightforward.
This is because:
- Your path is constantly evolving.
- Your personal skills and strengths will continue to evolve over time.
- Your interests will shift as you grow.
Graduation is not some point where you’re supposed to know exactly what you want to do and have everything sorted out.
Graduation is a turning point.
The responsibility of every minute you live is now on you. The onus is on you to create the life you want. It’s your job to explore life and find meaning in ways that school could never show you.
Keep in mind, you’re only about 20% done with your life. You could fuck up for the next 10 years and STILL be young as fuck. This is the time to experiment.
Try that thing you were always scared to.
Try learning Japanese if you want to speak to locals during your two month stay in Tokyo. Try being a personal trainer to learn how to identify and solve clients’ problems. Try working in the service industry to pickup some customer service skills.
I know you have a chip on your shoulder because you have a college degree and that means certain things in society, but I need to remind you, don’t let ego dictate you away from good opportunities.
I don’t care if you have a college degree, you’re NOT too good to work a restaurant job. You’re NOT too good to work an unpaid internship with a really cool company. You’re NOT too good to be entitled to a certain salary.
You are one of 1.8 million other undergraduates who have gotten their degrees this year. Congratulations on getting your degree -- it’s been a hard four years of enduring boring lectures and frustrating team projects and you deserve some recognition for working through the pain.
But now it’s time for you to stand out.
Now it’s your job to make your degree the least interesting thing about you.