Congrats, new grads! You made it. You just walked across that big stage, and got that shiny new diploma. (Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back.) I bet you are on top of the world right now. Filled with excitement and the desire to achieve great things.
You likely heard some rendition of this speech at your graduation ceremony. It goes a little something like this, “You have accomplished a ton already. Be proud of yourself. But, now we have to move on to the next chapter of our lives. Take everything that you have learned already in stride and be prepared to work hard. Success will then follow.”
Maybe, I’m a jaded mid-twenty-something. But, I feel like college commencement ceremonies should also give a few warnings and let’s just say real-life advice amidst all the unicorns, puppies and double rainbows.
For the first 18-22 years of our lives, we had a general plan set in front of us. For most of us, our parents helped shaped that plan. It looked something like this, “get good grades, make lots of good friends, do well on the SATs, graduate high school, get into college, do well in college, and then graduate.
But what’s next? After you graduate college, that life plan disappears. The sky’s the limit. It’s up to you decide what you want to do with the next 50-80 years of your life.
Life doesn’t come with a textbook and step-by-step instructions. There’s no essays, quizzes and final exams. It’s up to you to figure out what you want to do next. Then experiment OFTEN. Take calculated risks. Change up your daily routine. Set goals. Adjust. Move to a new city. Make mistakes. Go ahead and just FAIL.
Here’s a dirty little secret. You will never learn anything new if you only take the “safe, straight and narrow path.” Not to mention, it’s kind of boring. Go ahead and take a chance every once in awhile. Who knows, you may fail? Guess what, it happens to all of us. (Whether we choose to admit it or not.) I can guarantee you will learn more from the mistakes and the downright failures, than any experiences that went perfectly the first time.
Failure isn’t really the end of the world (like we portrayed it to be when we failed a test in middle school). Instead, embrace the mistakes and realize it will only help you discover your true calling.
So that’s my advice. What’s one piece of advice you would share with new grads?