Your life is a big deal. You’ll spend somewhere around eighty years on this earth, and twelve of those years were spent in some form of school. Needless to say, the time you spent in school or in anything you’ve done in your lifetime has purpose, if for no other reason than you’ve spent a good deal of your valuable time doing it. Your schooling has been preparing you for your adult life ahead, and your senior year is the only obstacle left to overcome to get there. Those who skirt by the difficulties of school by whatever means will be hit square in the face with the reality of the hardships of adult life that school was trying to prepare them for. To help you brace for the impact, and to help you relish the new adventure you’re setting off on, here’s five things you should know before you toss your graduation cap.
Your college degree won’t hand you your dream jobNow, this isn’t to devalue the college degree. It’s simply making it clear that your college degree isn’t necessarily a ticket into your dream career. More often than not, when you graduate university, you’ll have to take a job you might be overqualified for, or something outside of your expertise. Don’t let that dishearten you; as long as you do your best, and work towards your goal, you’ll get there. The best things in life take work to obtain, and that includes your dream job. Just remember to follow your heart when you’re choosing your career, it’ll set you on the path you really want to go down. Salary isn’t always the measure of success, but your level of fulfillment is, and that’ll be different for everyone. Figure out what it is, and you’ll get to your dream job in no time.
Get ready to feel poorOnce you set out on your own, you’re going to realize how wonderful your parents were in paying for some, or all, of your expenses. Part of what makes you an adult is your financial independence, and when you’re off at college or out in the workforce living on your own, you’ll really realize what that means. Sales in supermarkets will have never meant more to you, and you’ll quickly learn the art of being frugal. You can prepare for this now by saving your income, and learning how to distinguish between wants and needs. It’ll save you a lot of headaches in the future, and it’ll guarantee that your diet won’t just be ramen for the years to come.
Every choice you will affect your futureFrom choosing to get your drivers license, to quitting the cheer squad, to taking up photography, to picking out your university - every little or big choice will impact your future. That’s not to say you should ever fear the unknown, but it is to say that you should think before you act. Even when you follow your instincts - and trust me, you often will - you should still take a moment or two to act in wisdom. Adult life is full of choices, things that will veer you off the course you set yourself on years ago. Embrace the mystery of the future, but be ready to face it.
Value your memories, not your stuffYou’ll miss your high school years. For some of you, you might already be feeling the sting of leaving behind somewhere you’ve spent so much time, but for some of you it’ll take half your lifetime to realize the value of your youth. Learning to value memories over things will not only save money that would have been spent on expensive gadgets and designer items, or help you appreciate people in your life more. It’ll ultimately push you to value life itself far more than you would have if you were to just focus on the future. Every year you live is another one to remember, and since it’s your life, you should value the story you’re creating each day. One of the biggest regrets of the elderly is never cherishing the present. Remember the good ol’ days, and you’ll be better prepared to recognize and love the good times while you’re living them.
You’ll never be fully prepared for the futureYou could spend every waking moment of your life preparing for every possible scenario, or you could spend every second with your nose in your textbooks, studying and studying until you know it all. But you’d be missing out on actually living your life. Neither of those, preparation or studying, are bad things at all to focus on - they only can be negative in excess. Learning to improvise and embrace the inherent unknowability of life will help you be more confident and stable in facing your future. Going forward, remember to value wisdom, value your relationships and the memories you make with them, value your work, and learn how to really love life. Your life is a big deal, live it well.