Real Life

Post-Graduation: What now?

Dear graduate,

Congratulations! Now that you’re done learning, acquiring life skills, and becoming a well-rounded person, you’re well on your way to doing something worthwhile. The next chapter of your life will be a confusing, amorphous mess. Take some advice from someone who is only marginally more knowledgeable and is in the same boat. These three tips will bring you success in whatever you do.

  1. Push your body past its limits
    Be glad you don’t have health insurance, young ones; doctors are for the weak. In order to succeed, you have to forgo any comfort or well-being for the sake of self-promotion. Wean yourself off sleep until you reach vampire status. Consume copious amounts of caffeine to function. Take on more things than are humanly possible. Never say no to any new opportunity. If you find your efforts make you physically, emotionally, or mentally unwell, you’re on the right track. Success is being too exhausted to enjoy what you’ve earned.
  2. Do things you don’t want
    Being a well-rounded person means stepping out of your comfort zone and never returning to it. Don’t think you can get away with tiny deviations from your normal routine; pursue huge life changes against your better judgment. Give up writing to pursue mechanical engineering. Sell all your stuff, motivated by white guilt. Date someone you know to be a bad idea. Convert to the first religion that pops into your head. Anything you choose will contribute to your betterment and will have no lasting harmful effects.
  3. Develop your weaknesses
    Think of the talents and passions you’ve been honing your whole life. Now push them aside and don’t look back. The workforce is full of talented people; anyone can be good at something. Set yourself apart by becoming mediocre at that one skill you’ve never had. Put all your time and energy not into things you love, but into things that could be done better by someone else. Devote yourself to becoming the second-worst public speaker in the room, the so-so dental hygienist, the subpar babysitter. Become known for the area in which you’ll never excel.

If you hadn’t realized by now, none of these things will lead to success. Americans are obsessed with the appearance of success, which is what these things bring, along with a misguided sense of satisfaction. This is advice given by exhausted, unhappy people who repress regret by assuring themselves their choices weren’t in vain. Don’t be fooled by what the culture deems wise. Shine off your rugged individualism, graduate. You are a person with talents and preferences, likes and dislikes. Your story is unique; it never has to look like someone else’s if you don’t want. You have the freedom to pursue what you love, whether or not it’s lucrative. Make that your reality and let it guide your future.

Your friend,
Lauren Leshley, recent graduate

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