I feel so honored to have watched you go through the process of becoming an adult. Over the last months, you have ridden the emotional roller coaster that accompanies any major life change. You held on tight and even enjoyed the ride – at times – and came out the other side with a place to live, a job, and a pathway forward. I couldn’t be more proud!
So now, with your graduation just days behind you, I wanted to share some things I wish I knew almost 15 years ago during those first vulnerable months in the real world.
You don’t have to worry about what you are going to do and be in life anymore. are just doing it. Plus you already did something major – you graduated from college! Learning how to live on your own, outside of the university bubble is a great goal for your first few months. It took me almost a year to even get close to mastering running errands, grocery shopping, dealing with crazy landlords, and having fun while working.
You will get better at asking yourself the same questions. Who am I? What is important to me in life? What legacy do i want to leave? What impact do I want to have in the world? You are asking yourself some of these questions for the first time. The questions don’t go away but the answers do change. Becoming a mom required me to ask these questions all over again. What kind of mom do I want to be? What is the role of work in my life? Things that felt like a priority before – like being at every important meeting no matter where and when it took place – didn’t feel so important. I still felt a little overwhelmed figuring things out but I trusted there were answers.
Remember to always surround yourself with friends. I just came back from a weekend where I spent the day with a group of my very best friends in the world. It felt like coming home to myself, and I left feeling grounded and confident and full. In college, every day was like that. Post college, it takes effort and requires that you make it a priority. It means you have to travel to visit friends and schedule phone dates and use social media in a meaningful way. But it is worth it to maintain relationships across different stages of life.
But enjoy the diversity that the real world am offer. Only in college are you surrounded by people roughly the same age with the same level of ambition and intelligence. At some schools, like Brown, I’d add the same political persuasion. You can easily keep this bubble going throughout your life. Or you can branch out. My life is made richer by the diverse experiences and interests of my friends. Some are career creatives and musicians, others are mothers and grandmothers. They live near and far, vote blue and red, and have all different kinds of adventures. The world can be as big as you let it be.
Never stop learning. Learning happens everywhere, not just the classroom. You can learn from books or learn from people. The best way to learn is to be curious. Be curious about others jobs and lives and interests. Ask them what they read and where they get their news. Don’t let search optimization narrow your exposure to new ideas. For great thinking on idea management, check out Andy Boynton’s site and book here.
You will chart your own course and write your own story. I can’t wait to be a part of the next chapter!