Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ten Things I Wish I had Known When I Graduated from College

Here is something I wrote for another young cousin who just graduated from college:

Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Graduated College

1. There is nothing to be scared of. The economy was bad when I graduated from college, too. And still, companies kept hiring people, I found a job, and look at me now, all these years later, I’m a mid-level bureaucrat! But the important thing is that I’m employed and happy, even after starting off in a bad economy. You’ll be just fine too.

2. You get do-overs in life. If you get out there and decide that you hate the choices you have made, you can always choose differently—different career, different degree, different apartment, different city...

3. Nobody knows what they are doing. When I was your age, I kept waiting until I knew all those things I thought grown-ups were supposed to know, like how much car insurance you really need and how to negotiate a better rate on your credit card. I finally figured out nobody knows what they are doing and we all just sort of make it up as we go along and somehow it works out ok.

4. Nobody knows what they want to be when they grow up. Many people change careers several times during their working lives and the world does not come to an end. It’s true.

5. Writing things down seems to make them happen. I don’t know why this works but I swear to you it does, and I’m not usually a believer in New Age woo-woo stuff. I just know that when I have written down what I wanted my life to look like, darned if I don’t go back a few years later and re-read it and realize that my life looks exactly like what I wrote down. (Note to self: Write down what life looks like after winning the lottery.)

6. Good credit is a wonderful thing to have. Boring, but true. Pay your bills on time, don’t get behind, don’t bite off more than you can chew. When you have good credit and a crisis comes along, you can get a loan for the things you need, if it’s the kind of crisis that can be solved (or at least made better) through the purchase of goods and/or services. Life is just easier when you have a good credit score.

7. Don’t worry about what other people think. Usually, other people are too worried about what everyone thinks about them to figure out what they think about you. The people who matter will love you and the people who don’t love you, don’t matter. I swear this is true.

8. Say yes. Your dream job opens up but you are afraid you won’t even get an interview? Apply anyway. You are dying to take an art class/horseback riding lessons/a scuba diving course but are afraid you will look ridiculous? Sign up anyway. Want to vacation in Paris but don’t speak a word of French? Book the vacation anyway! Except in regards to dubious sexual partners, criminal activity, pyramid schemes, and illicit drugs, people rarely regret saying “yes” to things.

9. Baby steps. Many things in life are frightening when you look at the big picture. So break it down into baby steps. For me, law school was scary so I didn’t even think about it, I just took the LSAT. Then I applied to law schools and looked into financial aid. Then I enrolled. Baby step by baby step, I graduated from law school and passed the bar. I speak from experience when I say the baby step method can also be used to find the love of your life, purchase a home, and adopt a child.

10. Don’t forget who you are. You are a smart, talented, beautiful young woman with unique gifts to share with the world. And no matter what happens in life, you have friends and family who love and adore you.

2 comments:

Robin Thomas: A Nest With a View said...

I love that I have this direct link to your brain.

I also say "baby steps" to others, but never enough to myself. Isn't interesting we knew how to accomplish things at one year old but rarely remember how X years later?

I heart you.

ellwoman said...

I emailed a link to the college student in my life. Thanks!