It’s that time of year. The time, before heading off to the graduation parties of relatives that were young, like, four seconds ago, and I sit there holding a foam plate of pasta salad mentally doing the math on just how fucking old I am now and how fucking long it’s been since I’ve graduated high school, that I find myself in Target staring blankly at the wall of greeting cards, reading the grand words of encouragement, deciding which cliche is less of an eye roll to the reality of actual adulthood.

It’s like when you go to your friends house to pick her up for a girls night out, and she’s wearing an eye patch because she scratched her cornea, and she’s all, do you think people will notice this eye patch, and you’re all, what eye patch?

These cards are liars, they offer nothing of value except false platitudes that set graduates up for disaster.

Maybe this is just me being cynical because I just watched Reality Bites and I’m all, the world doesn’t owe you any favors, Troy about shit right now, but there’s a big difference between what these cards say, and what they mean.

Here’s the reality.

You are our future! Yeah, we all are, dude. That’s how the time continuum works. Unless you’re Sam Becket in which you’re both our future and our past and oh my God. I just made a Quantum Leap reference, I need to apply RoC undereye cream and put my head between my knees for a second. Hold on.

Okay yes, technically, you are “our” future in the sense that now that you are older, you are way more likely to take actions that could potential benefit or fuck up the way of life for an entire population of people. So, that’s an awesome perk, right?

Try new things! Unless those things are cashing Nigerian lottery winnings or eating room temperature oysters. But, yes, go explore, stumble around, experiment. Do things that are scary and exciting while you still have freedom and skin elasticity. Just remember that tattoos are permanent. And so are sex tapes. And also herpes.

Believe in yourself! It’s an amazing realization that outside of your immediate family and friends, nobody cares about you, knows about you, or even expects anything from you at all. So, it’s up to you. Believe in yourself so you have the strength to get out of bed in the morning and compete against all the other millions of people who believe in themselves. Also, if you have great hair, a charismatic personality, and a solid game plan, you can get others to believe in you, too! Cults can be a crazy lucrative industry.

Aim high! Ok, this is a recipe for disaster, especially if you are 1. shooting an arrow straight up into the sky or 2. attempting to succeed at anything on the first try. So instead of aiming high, why not just aim reasonably. I’m a firm believer in failing along the way to success, and achievable milestones happen to be great confidence boosters. Pass your Econ exam? Awesome. Figure out how to order coffee at Starbucks so the baristas don’t look at you like you’re Toby from The Office? High five. Beat level 65 of Candy Crush? You’re basically almost a CEO.

Follow your dreams! This would be easier if your dreams weren’t always about making out with Captain Von Trapp (I have a thing for whistles) or having cuddle parties with Hoggle from Labyrinth. But if by dreams you mean aspirations, sure, follow those. Unless you aspire to develop a reality singing competition show, then I’m going to stop you right there, because we don’t need another one of those.

Do what you love! Confucius said, “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I can tell you, from experience, this is true. But, you should also know that before you can make a career of doing what you love, you’re probably going to have to do lots of things you don’t love first, because you can’t pay utility bills or student loans with passion. I tried, and not having running water is super inconvenient.

Be true to yourself! Great advice, but first, you seriously need to figure out who the hell you are. Not to get all MTV Diary up in here, but at 18, “you think you know, but you have no idea.” So to start, I’m going to give you permission to feel okay about not knowing who you are as a person yet. After graduation I thought I knew exactly what I wanted out of life. To go to college. To get the fuck out of my hometown. To get married and have kids and be a stay at home mom and take care of my husband and be happy. I literally just rolled my eyes at myself typing that… from the couch of my house… in my home town. Irony. But seriously, that life would have made me miserable. I had seven different internships and a complete nervous breakdown in college, and I still left there having no idea who I was. Let go of the reigns. Take a deep breath. Find out what makes you feel completely alive. Go from there. Oh, and be okay if it takes until your thirties to figure any of it out.

Make a difference! Making an impact during your life is an important thing, whether it be to the world or just one person. Between internet and social media, you have an unprecedented platform for change, and it’s really hard to go through life and not achieve this. However, it’s exponentially easy to fuck this up. So make a difference. Just make sure it’s the good kind.

This is the first day of the rest of your life! Sure, you are entering a point in your life where you have the opportunity to be adventurous and careless, and selectively mature; you should rejoice in that. But don’t write this period of your life off as throw-away experience. This period of your life totally countsies.

So, perhaps this is why only optimists are greeting card authors. Not much of a market for the Brittany Gibbons line of  graduation cards with such whimsical themes as…

Don’t rape. Anyone.
Love your yourself now.
Don’t get credit cards from people giving out free tee shirts.
Google: empathy.
Don’t get alcohol poisoning.
Wear sandals in public showers.
Figure out how to calculate restaurant tips unless you like to eat pubic hair.
It’s okay to realize your parents aren’t dumb-asses.
The computer is lying to you about your online bank balance. No seriously. You don’t have that much money right now.

 

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