by Emily A.
As my blogging cohorts and most of my friends from high school/Oberlin celebrated their second graduversary, I celebrated my first (silly year off…). Some of my best buddies just chucked their caps and gowns to prepare for *gasp* the real world.
‘What happens when your booze stops coming out of kegs, and starts getting real…’
I look on College oh-so-fondly, but the thought that my days of academia are supposed to be “the best years of my life” (ugh, why do people say that?!?!) just makes me sad and sweaty. Yes, I learned a lot about friendships and habits and what I believe defines me/my self-worth/my passions, etc., but those lessons and those relationships are things I can continue to carry with me after the Pomp and Circumstance. But the other stuff? My peak? All-nighters and sleep deprivation and bad boozing and horrible time management and minimal self-care and more one-night stands than I care to divulge? Yeah? Emily dear, you can do better.
And I have, wee! I love that I can simultaneously be grateful for my extended undergrad career, and at the same time be so happy that it ended how and when it did, because honestly, the ‘real world’ (another saying that drives me batshit but we’ll go with it for now) is so much better.
I am no expert on post-graduate life, but I am an expert on my post graduate life. And my post-graduate life – especially considering how shitty other generations/the economy/dissatisfied graduated friends told me it would and should be – is incredible. I love my life, so I like to think that means I got some stuff right, at least for me and the life I love to live. So now, my unsolicited advice for people who want to love stuff the way I love stuff (which is awesomely, for the record).
say whatever you want…
1. Live below your means. I’ve been sucky at this the last few months, and hospital bills are an excellent reminder to lock it up. Un-plannable shit can and will happen, and life doesn’t offer a dining plan. And for the love of god, if you have a paycheck, save some of it.
1a. Groupon. You still need treats. Just discount ones.
2. Fear is a good thing. Don’t ignore it because it’s confusing and big; obviously it wants to tell you something , so befriend it, listen to it, ask it lots of questions, and don’t let it take the front seat. It’s another perspective, and it’s important to have the conversation with yourself (aww) to figure out what it has to say.
3. Death to “should!” Dammit I hate ‘shoulds!” Acting on anything/everything based on what it “should…” is going to get you nowhere except shitsville, with a total inability to trust your own desires and ideas. My big ‘should’ in school was to move to NY or LA and pursue theater, because it was what I studied. People had faith in my ability to do it successfully, and I did too, and I love acting, and I spent four years and a whole bunch of my parents’ money learning about it (thank you, Mom and Dad) so it seemed like what I should do. Except I didn’t want to, so I didn’t, and there has literally not been a single day I wish I were doing that instead. How the hell else is anyone ever going to learn what they actually enjoy and feel about things as an individual if they’re constantly basing their decisions on others’ shoulds? They’re not. That’s the point.
4. It might look different than you expected, which is totally fine. See number 3.
5. ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are the best words ever. Boundaries are easy in College; there’s a rule and a consequence for pretty much anything, so learning to do things on your own terms never becomes terribly necessary. But my oh my, it is so necessary. Get cozy with these two words.
6. Ask for help. I hate this one. But I also don’t hate this one because it’s important and it gets me to places I want to be. You are not incompetent for being un-able to live 35 lives at once. Please remind me of this occasionally.
7. talk to your friends!!! I have gone months without speaking to people I never imagined going a few days without contacting. It’s weird. I think we all get that it’s an adjustment to learn, and we’re all trying to learn it, but make the effort. Skype is a beautiful thing.
8. Take care of yourself. Nobody else can do it for you. By all means though, let them try, because that’s good too.
9. Take care of other people too. Hint: the number one best way to accomplish this, is with #8.
10. Get a dog. Or a really finnicky cat. Or something a step up from a houseplant that will die if you don’t care for it unconditionally. Graduating for the sake of getting married and popping out babies was never really my goal, and I have an excellent four-legged reminder to feel no reason to rush into that ever for any reason.
10a. Love things unconditionally. It’s cool if it’s a houseplant, just learn how to do it.
11. Don’t feel self-conscious about writing lists about why you’re such a genius about life even after only so much experience with it. NOBODY ELSE IS GOING TO BECOME AN EXPERT ON YOUR LIFE FOR YOU. Let condescending Wonka have his laugh and carry on.
12. Be nice. To yourself, to your friends, to your parents, to your family, to strangers, to people with different opinions than yours, to your barista, to your neighbors, to the guy mumbling on the bus. It’s good ju-ju, and it just feels better.
13. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means it’s hard.
Lucky number 13 oughtta cap it off. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get started on year numero dos.
Oh and hey, see what I did there? How I didn’t post anything for a month? It looks like things have been picking up and getting crazy busy in Camp Emily (see: rule 13), so I’m going to be stepping down in posts for a bit. So for the time being, at least for a few months, consider me a frequent guest-poster…