To all my Graduates

I have to take a moment to step away from my culture-obsessions and lead into a huge topic for me right now. One that I have been intimidated to attack but really must, for my benefit and for the benefit of everyone my age. I spend countless hours talking to my friends with looming graduation ceremonies about the up and down thought process in the months leading up to the big kick in the behind as schools boot you out into the “real world”. I stepped up for my swift kick in the rear last December, a semester before my counter-parts. And let me tell you – it hurts like nothing else. The last 3 months have been a blur as I stand up, rub my behind, get my bearings, reorient myself, and look around to where I ended up. Turns out, I landed in Cleveland. I think this period where you just have to close your eyes and let that painful uncertainty take over for you is completely necessary. I have said this once and I will say a hundred times more. The best advice I have ever gotten about taking these leaps and bounds in my life is “Don’t think – Do.” As soon as you find yourself trying to answer questions like ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ you try to place everything on hold until you can answer it. And show me ONE 20 year old that can honestly answer that question! You’d be standing around thinking forever, and all that thinking and no action is bad for your inner balance.

I have discovered that the best way to know what you want is to try (obviously). But I say this because, only after you are in an environment can you really know what you love and hate about it. I had the same epiphany 4 years ago when I was deciding on a college. Everyone pretends, as the wander around campus tours and sit through advisor meetings, that they know what they are looking for. But how can you know what you love about something you have never lived through? The best decision I have ever made was transferring schools. Not until I had been at Univ of Dayton, did I know in general what college was like. Only then could I figure out what parts I like and don’t like. Then as I went through the college search round 2, the decision of Michigan State was so much easier and I felt so much more confident in it. If I ruled the world, everyone would have to look at college again after a year.

Now, I have to apply the same thinking as I go through the job search. I took the leap, ended up somewhere without much thought (they told me they would give me money to crunch their numbers; those were the only requirements I needed) Now that I’ve got those basic facts down, the hard part begins. What am I doing here? Do I even want to be here? Do I want to settle down here? Do I want to work at this job for the next 50 years? Do I even want to BE an accountant? No.

Whenever that answer would pop into my head over the past few weeks, I broke down in tears. I made the wrong decision. Regret has weighed heavy on me. But then again, its not that I went into this KNOWING it was wrong. I took the unknowing leap. Now that I’m here, I can look around and see what I like and don’t like. There are millions of places you can land after the kick, the odds of landing in the place you love forever and always is one in a million. Not such hot odds are they now?

So I’m not scared or embarrassed to say now that I don’t want to be where I am today for much longer. But I’m out here. And that part, that vast air of choices that I have now, that fact that I am young with nothing to tie me down except my apartment lease, is an amazing feeling.

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