Avoiding the post-graduation misery
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2012 13:05
After you walk off stage at graduation, you might find you’ve reached a fork in the road. The first step to becoming miserable after graduation requires that you choose one of the two paths with which you’re faced. You can be rebellious and forget about everything everyone told you about the “real world,” or you can sell out and live by the book. But if Shakespeare and Milton taught you anything, it’s that life is too ambiguous for structurally rigid philosophical dichotomies, right?
It’s cliché, but ignore the fork and blaze your own path. Based on the quad between Homer and the business school, as UConn grads, I’m sure you’ve got ample experience in the “screw the paved path, that patch of grass is good as gone” department.
Don’t do things because you “have to.” Obligation is a load of crap and a poor justification for action. Seriously, “have to,” have you ever heard such a complete load of BS before?
They say you “have to” dump your college boyfriend or girlfriend because he or she is still in school and you’re suddenly in the real world. But then again, maybe it’s meant to be and if you hold on, you’ll be happy for years. Dare to dream, right?
They say you “have to” get your own place right away, but you’re an English major. Get real; you’ll be living with Mom until you’re 28. And the weird part is you’ll probably like it.
And they’ll say you “have to” look for a nice guy/girl, get a steady job, shop at J.Crew, buy a brand new Honda, and move to the Connecticut suburbs. If you shop at Nike, drive a ’93 Saturn, want to move to Texas, like your relationships casual and your income sporadic, you’ll be miserable with that life. Trust me, the Accord is a really nice car, but it’s not worth throwing your identity, the only thing you’ll really ever have, out the rear window.
At the same time, if you love J.Crew, Hondas, Connecticut, companionship, and money, don’t become somebody else just to fight the power and combat the cliché, you’ll find yourself just as miserable.
Instead, just be an honest you and strive to be who you honestly want to be. Here are a few reminders that will hopefully keep you on track-- both toward being you and subsequently, toward being happy.
Keep winging it. As college graduates, you’ve all winged it at one point or another. Whether it’s with big things like an undergraduate research presentation in a far off city, or little things like a last minute homework assignment, you’re experienced pros at this point and you might have realized that it’s sort of fun and kind of addicting. Don’t stop.
Don’t slide into a routine. Remember: TV sucks, pop-music is bland, and day after day of passionless sex on your non-lofted, non-twin sized bed reaches a point at which it isn’t sex at all, it’s just boring. We’re talking about sex, but it’s only an example. More broadly, keep the passion alive and keep re-inventing, re-imagining, and revising. Misery only strives in stasis.
Be spontaneous. Make your dwelling partner (romantic, platonic, or parental) blueberry pancakes one Saturday just because you feel like it, take a snow day in July, or decide on a Thursday night that you are sick of Community and feel like road tripping and spending the weekend at your college roommate’s house. Keep it interesting and you’ll stay miles from misery.
Don’t be a jackass. Simple enough, right? Not really. The world is full of them and due to their sheer number, I’m starting to think it requires a decent amount of effort to prevent yourself from becoming one of them. Don’t fall into cynicism: I’m not saying it’s not justified, I’m just assuming that it can’t be much fun. Life’s too short to live like a jackass, blinded by cynicism and void of the ability to simply have a good time. Be the best you can be and the rest will fall into place.
Trust your own opinions. If ten years from now, you look toward the fridge and decide that your kid’s crayon picture is better than the Mona Lisa, go with it, because you’re probably right. Savor life’s unexpected little masterpieces.
Be creative. We live in a world where music is sampled, stories are borrowed, and movies are remade. We communicate in hash-tags of chewed-up and spit-out pop culture references. Break that trend. There has never or will never be another you again, so don’t worry about doing it like somebody else, don’t concern yourself with all that has come before and don’t get caught up in what is cliché. Be original, be creative, be uniquely and honestly you.