Adulthood Struggles / Advice / Grief Counseling / Self Help

A Commencement Speech – For Your First Year Out Of College

mark twainSeeing all of you gathered here today, mostly in your pajamas, it’s crazy to realize that just one year ago we were just starting on this journey: capped and gowned, maybe kind of drunk, truly thrilled to see our family but also excited for them to leave so we could have sex with Kevin before we had to go visit home for a couple weeks. We were graduating college. And we were very vocally terrified… but also somehow completely unprepared for what we’d experience.

Now it’s been a year. College, already, feels so far away — like a silly, tiny camp where everyone is the same age and rides bikes and nobody’s started letting their body go yet. There were days when our biggest stresses were shotgunning Coors and the papers we hadn’t started. Comparatively, this past year there was a lot of not being employed, a lot of terror at the rate our friends are scattering and leaving us. There was a lot of blogging about having to eat ramen, a lot of not being able to afford new jeans the moment we decided we needed new jeans. It was the great Mark Twain who, around this age, said “fuck this art thing, I’ll go work for my dad.” And we might feel close to saying that too.

We just have to look to the future — where there is a lot more worse stuff all the time forever. It will always be hard, and even more so. Most of us have yet to know the horrors of diminishing possibility, disease, true loss. And we’ll keep going even then, with our optimism and appreciation for the good parts of life. Because hey, did that Mark Twain loser with his lame attitude ever become anybody?!

Yes. Because he stuck with the art thing and worked hard at it. This is our first taste of that real life everyone said would be so hard, of realizing the difference between saying “you just have to keep trying!” and how hard it is to do. But good things will happen (and have). And we’ll rise to the occasion and learn, and we’ll handle disappointment and jealousy gracefully. When people said it’d be a long game, this is the beginning of what they were talking about.

And so, class of one-year-out-of-college 2013, I’d like to leave you with these words from the great Mark Twain: “Work hard, love well, get drunk.”

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