Happy Graduation, now live a great life

Posted on June 1st, 2011

This is a graduation column I wrote a year or so ago. I’m reprinting it because it’s graduation!

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

- John Lennon

I like June. I think June is a great month. It’s filled with the promise of summer and picnics and weddings and graduations. It’s like a party that happens every year.  And every year, young people grow up, graduate and begin their lives. And as an official member of the not-so-young, I want to tell them the following:

  • Appreciate your youth. I know you won’t. But as an old fart looking back, I can tell you that youth is truly wasted on the young. Seriously. If I had your body, your energy and your fearlessness along with my life experience I could conquer the world. So appreciate it. It doesn’t come back, no matter what a plastic surgeon tells you.
  • Travel. If you have always wanted to see India, go there. I don’t care if you have to put off an internship at the best company on earth. Go to India now. You might not get a second chance. So go. Enjoy India. Bring me back a sari. Or at least bring me back some spices. You can’t get good Indian spices where I live.
  • If you have always wanted to write or paint or do anything that doesn’t come with a guaranteed salary…do it now. Later on you will sit in a cubicle, working hard for your money to pay the mortgage or the private school for your 1.5 kids and you will wonder why you never took up the pen or the paintbrush. And it might be too late.  It might not. But why risk it?
  • Do not be afraid to fail. Because you will. Failure is nature’s way of guaranteeing we appreciate our successes, no matter how small. Just learn from every failure. And then move on. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t wallow in it. Use it to make you stronger.
  • Do not be afraid to succeed. Yeah, I know. You’re wondering who the heck is afraid of success. Let me tell you, plenty are scared to death of it, so they don’t try to attain it. Look, if you know yourself, if you are true to yourself, you have nothing to fear.  Also, remember that success comes to those who try, not those who wait.
  • Don’t waste your time on petty stuff. Jealousy is the most petty. Somebody will always have more money, a nicer house, a hotter spouse. If you waste your time wishing that somebody was you, I guarantee you will end up bitter and unhappy. And honestly, you get one life. Do you truly want to spend it wishing you were someone else?
  • If you go to college, remember that what you major in isn’t what you are or even what you will be. It’s hard to pick your life’s work when you haven’t really experienced life at all. So if you have to try a few majors on for size, don’t worry about it. College majors are like blue jeans. You have to try on several pairs before you find your favorite.
  • Don’t worry about being cool. It’s fleeting. Even your mom and dad were cool once. They may even be cool now—at least amongst their own friends. But cool is something you can’t bottle or buy. So stop worrying about it. Instead be you. And trust me, that is when you will be totally cool.
  • Appreciate your small town—you might want to come back someday. I grew up in a small town. Seriously, in high school the big hangout was the fig orchard. It doesn’t get any duller than that. I couldn’t wait to leave. So I came to the big city. It was exciting. It was thrilling. It didn’t roll up the sidewalks at 10 PM.  Now that I’m older, I realize that I’m in bed at 10 PM, so honestly I don’t care what the sidewalks are doing. So I live in a small town again. Never say never. It just limits you.
  • We’re all going to end up in the same place. Nobody leaves here alive. Enjoy your life, whether you travel or not. Whether you become an artist or not. Whether you succeed or not.  There’s no rhyme or reason for you to be here, it just happened. Make the most of your life, no matter what you end up doing or how you end up living.

Now go, but don’t forget my spices.

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2 Responses to “Happy Graduation, now live a great life”

  1. Liz Says:

    The timing of this could not have been more perfect, but of course as you mentioned it is June and it is graduation season. My youngest is graduating high school next week. I just came back from senior awards. Your column is perfect. I am going to print it and give it to my daughter. Thanks!!

    The one that made me laugh the most was your first, appreciate your youth. Do you know how many times I have told my daughter almost exactly what you said…..youth is wasted on the young.

    Thanks for your blog I love it and it makes me laugh which I need right now!!

  2. Laurie Says:

    Hi Liz,
    I’m so glad you are sharing it! I know, if we had their youth, we could totally kick some butt. Plus, I would really wear some low cut stuff I was too embarrassed to wear when I was young. Now I wonder why I never wore anything that showed my cleavage at all. What was I thinking? Nobody wants to see it anymore. I totally wasted good cleavage.

    I’m glad I could make you laugh :) Take care and Happy Graduation to your daughter.


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