11 Things We Wish Our Commencement Speaker Told Us
Posted by Katie Ostoich on April 30, 2012 at 2:57 PM
Dear Class of 2012: While the words you hear at commencement may inspire you and leave you feeling optimistic about the road ahead, most typical commencement addresses hold few of the lessons young people really need to hear about what lies ahead. Take it from us, the world isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. The Wall Street Journal just published a list of lessons someone had told them. Here are a few of their lessons and ones we wish someone told us!
1. Your time in fraternity basements was well spent.
The same goes for the time you spent playing intramural sports, working on the school newspaper or just hanging with friends. Research tells us that one of the most important factors associated with happiness and well-being is your relationships with other human beings.
2. Some of your worst days lie ahead.
I’m sorry to be a downer.Graduation is a happy day! But my job is to tell you that if you are going to do anything worthwhile, you will face periods of horrible awfulness. Be prepared to work through them. Especially in this economy. I'll spare you my personal details, other than to say that one year after college graduation I had a crappy job, very little money, and I was living with my parents. But, you know, you survive (thanks to cheap wine).
3. It's all borrowed time.
You shouldn't take anything for granted, not even tomorrow. I offer you the "hit by a bus" rule. Ask yourself: Would I regret spending my life this way if I were to get hit by a bus next week or next year? And the important follow-up: Does this path lead to a life I will be happy with and proud of in 10 or 20 years if I don't get hit by a bus.
4. Get a partner-in-crime.
When I couldn’t get health insurance, my husband had a job with benefits. (To clarify, having a "spouse with benefits" is different from having a "friend with benefits.") When my husband goes back to school part-time in the fall, we have two incomes to offset the added cost. Trust me, you will do better in life if you have a second economic oar in the water. I also want to alert you to the fact that commencement is like shooting smart fish in a barrel. The summa cum laude graduates have their names printed in the program. Seize the opportunity!
5. Just because you graduate, it doesn't mean you'll have your dream adult life.
Maybe I was naïve, but I expected to graduate and start living the most amazing life! Dream closet! Perfect apartment! Awesome job! Umm, no. I don’t know how we get this picture in our heads (I personally blame Sex and the City), but I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s not going to happen. Truth is, we don’t make that much money in our twenties and for a lot of us, it’s all going to rent and student loan payments! So put away those Pinterest boards for now…you’ll get there soon enough!
6. You have to pay your dues.
If you’ve had an internship during school, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Sometimes, you’re the low man on the totem pole and you just have to suck it up and do it. Brette, the Editor-in-Chief here at GGTo spent her first job sorting trail mix and making sure bottled water was the right temperature. Seriously! But just because you are the one who has to make the copies doesn't mean you aren't on your way to your dream. IT TAKES TIME!
7. 401Ks are important.
I’m going practical here for a second. Fact: If a 22 year old woman puts away 10% of her income each year until she is 30 and then STOPS, she will still retire with more $$ than the women who starts putting away 10% at 30 and does so up until she retires. I know, I just told you you were going to be poor! But it’s important to set money aside. Just set it up when you start your job and forget about it. You’ll be able to make do with the rest, I promise, and your future self will be so happy with you.
8. Life's short. Spend time with those you love.
My best friend recently lost her mom to cancer and she told me this the other day: “Life’s too short. I regret not spending time with my mom right after I graduated. All I could think about was finding a job. There’s more to life than a job or money.” It reminded me a lot of one of my fave quotes from the Lululemon manifesto: Friends are more important than money.
9. Stop the arms race.
Here’s the truth: There will always be someone smarter/thinner/prettier than you with a better job/more money/nicer apartment/better boyfriend than you. You can’t avoid it. But you can stop comparing. Own where you are in your own life, not in your own life compared to everyone else’s. It will never bring you happiness.
10. It’s not all doom and gloom.
Yeah, there’s a lot of sh*t you have to plow through right after school. But the good news is, everyone is right there with you, also trudging along! Seriously, happy hours have never been so fun (see proof here.) and you will make millions of happy memories that outweigh the millions of not-so-happy ones.
And finally: 11. There is no such thing as cramming last-minute for an exam, borrowing someone else's notes, or finding a cheat sheet online.
Life is one big lesson after the next so be prepared, take good notes and remember this is your life, not someone else's. Mistakes will be made, failures will be had but it's how you handle yourself that will truly shape who you are and where you go in life.
We want to hear from you! What do you wish your commencement speaker told you? Do you agree with these?