To the 2014 Graduates..

It's true; I never got to give a commencement speech and I'm still a bit bitter about it.  However, as I approach my 10 year hs reunion and my 6 year college graduation anniversary, what I really wish is that someone had given me the advice I'm about to give you all (yes, the 3 people that read this blog.  Thank you.)

Baby Don't Rush....
My entire life had been one goal gearing up for another larger goal:
  • do well in high school to get into good college (check)
  • do well in college to get into good medical school or get good job (check)
  • be filthy rich and enjoy life (not so much...)
Let's face it, it's basically impossible to plan out every aspect of your life.  This took me a very long time to figure out.  The first few years out of college were very confusing for me.  I wanted to live like a baller and ignore all of the other responsibilities that came with being a grown up.  
I felt the pressure of all of my friends getting married and starting their lives...and a few friends got married, had kids, and stopped working shortly thereafter.  All of the sudden I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do...
 The fact of the matter is that there is no "syllabus" for life; just because you don't find the right guy in college doesn't mean you should settle just because your best friend is getting married.  And if you can't afford a new car or that fancy purse you've been eying...don't do it.   The only thing worse than buyers remorse is that monthly bill that keeps knocking at your door for 60 months...
 Live a Little...
One of my biggest regrets after graduation is that I was so ready to start making money that I missed out on the trip of a lifetime with some of my sorority sisters backpacking around Europe.  Sure...I bet there would have been a few hiccups along the way, but I really wish I had been a bit more adventurous.  I told myself that I only wanted to do the traveling if I could do it in style...but at this rate...that will be in about 50 years...and I'm not sure how stylish 70 y.o. Americans in Europe are, but I'm guessing my odds (and my legs) would have been better at 22. 
It's important to start saving soon, but also take time for fun trips.  Let's face it, it takes years to build up that vacation time - which is why you should definitely take advantage of the holiday time you do have off.  My first year out of college I made sure to spend all of my holidays with friends who had chosen to live in more exciting destinations than myself.  All a good vacay needs is good friends, good fun, and good wine :)
Give Yourself a Break...
About 6 months into working life, I had a full on tantrum about how much life sucked.  Way more of my money was going to bills/rent/etc. then I deemed acceptable.  I was angry.  I mean, as the low man on the pole, I was dealt a lot of the "technical writing" challenges which I had only spend 10 weeks in school covering.  Where was the lab work?  The DOEs?  HELP ME.  
I remember coming home one night and telling my mom about all of this bullshit.  How I could have just gotten an English degree after all!  The fact is that sometimes a job is not all you think it's going to be...and once you're a full timer the charade is up. 
So, what do you do?  Well, if you're like me...I did an assessment and thought maybe it was the field.  Or maybe it was the company.  So I left the company I was with only to find that the grass wasn't always greener.  The thing is, you have to put your time in.  However, once you've proven yourself over a year or two - don't be afraid to come to your supervisor or mentor and explain to them how you are feeling and what you are looking for.  A great supervisor will help you find a job within the company that meets your needs; in fact, I'm a huge fan of the rotational programs that more companies are becoming accustomed to.  Companies invest in you just as much as you invest in them - they would rather keep good employees and make them happy versus starting over with a new hire.  If that discussion doesn't go well...look elsewhere.  
 And if you really hate your job and feel like you've covered all of the possible scenarios...consider a career change.  However, do your homework.  You've seen how much the investment is to getting one degree..starting over can be pretty intimidating.  
And you know what?  If you're not a manager or a director or a CEO by the time you're 30...join the club!  Most of those people have earned that position after many years of hard work and lots of experience.  Here's the way I look at it: do you really want that title if you're not prepared for the responsibility?  Why rush when you could possible have the same opportunity in a year or two with even more experience.  A title means very little...and it shouldn't define who you are as an employee.  

So at the end of the day...try to find something positive about your job - even if it's just a paycheck.  And...just remember that most colleges have at least one time a year when you are allowed to act like a College Idiot all over again...HOMECOMING :) 

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