Four years ago this week, I graduated from college and had no idea what I wanted to do next. This post is for anyone who is graduating this spring and has no clue what to do with their life. First of all, congratulations on graduating! Now let’s get down to it. Warning: profanity.
Nobody is luckier than you are right now.
Yes, maybe you have student loans. Maybe you feel pressure from your parents. But if you are 22 years old with no idea what direction you want to go in, you are in an incredibly awesome situation. Here’s why.
School– your life to date so far– is bullshit compared to the “real world.” There are no scheduled exams here, nothing to memorize, shit out and forget 5 minutes later. That’s not how it works. There aren’t reading assignments and there aren’t grades. You have to validate yourself. And if you screw it up, you’re going to know it. It’s not just a letter on your report card.
In the “real world”– and I hate this term, but there is truth in it– there are no rules. You make the rules. As convincing as some people seem to be, at some point, even the most successful and inspiring people have no real clue what they are doing. They just do their best– they take their best guess and they move forward without apology.
I completely empathize if you feel overwhelmed. I did. But now is the time to be accountable.
Now is the time to be ridiculous. Now is the time to risk. I guarantee the list of things holding you back at 22 is way, way smaller than it will be at 42. Most of you aren’t married. Most of you don’t have kids.
Now is the time to learn about money and be purposeful with it. Travel, but when you do, travel with a purpose. Be smart– do not waste your money or your time (because your time is money, even if you don’t realize this yet).
If you don’t want to get a 9-5 office job, now is the time to find out how to make life work for you in a different way. And you have to hustle. I don’t want you to run in a hamster wheel– I want you to hustle as gracefully as possible. But respect that you might spend a lot of time face down in the arena. That is to say: you will fail, and you will learn. This is part of it– maybe even most of it.
Now is the time to get really fucking curious. Get curious about people you look up to and learn as much as you can from them. Find mentors. Get curious about the world because it is changing all the time, with or without you. If you want to be well informed and make your life matter, it is important to understand the planet you live on and the people you live on it with.
Ask questions. Try things. Take risks. Say yes. Do not make procrastinating an option.
Yes it’s overwhelming, yes it’s scary as hell and yes you’re going to be okay, I promise. Now is the time to jump head first into the deep end and learn to swim. Now is the time to jump off the cliff and build the plane on the way down. This is the time you can get away with living a lifestyle that is mostly about you– today your life is probably the most uncomplicated it will ever be.
These are strong words because they are meant to be. It doesn’t matter what excuse you feel like you need to tell me about right now– if you were inclined to read this article, some of it applies to you. I’m not going to sugar coat things and pat you on the back. I’m going to tell you to go get after it.
Four years ago, I walked across the stage at SUNY Purchase with zero idea where the next year would take me and barely any clue where the next month would take me. Four years later, I’m amazed at the roller coaster of my life. I’m humbled by all the times I have fallen and all of the lessons I’ve learned. And I will never stop.
This is your life. You get to do it one time. You are young. Get hungry and do it big.