May 13, 2012

10 Things I Wish I had Known when I Graduated.



photo: Wikimedia

College was fun.

I remember feeling so sure of myself at graduation. I knew what I was going to do. I knew where my path was headed. My grades and awards were so important; I was so accomplished. I was going to stay in touch with all of my roommates and buddies from school. Real life was going to start now.

Wow, was I wrong!

Ten things I wish I had known then:

1. It’s all temporary. Nothing is permanent. The good stuff. The bad stuff. Maybe I thought I knew it then. I probably just think I know it now and (hopefully) will know it a little more ten years from now. Still, even remembering it a little can make a big difference.

2. Being defensive is a waste of precious time and energy. Sure, clear up misunderstandings when they happen. But excuses and blaming and defensiveness? It helps no one. Drive all blames into one.

3. No one cares what you got on your SATs or what your GPA was. It doesn’t matter. Let it go. It’s a measure of how you test, whether your teacher was effective and—maybe—what you took away from the classes. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” (Albert Einstein).

4. The ways you don’t fit, feel uncomfortable and different from everyone else? That’s where you’re spectacular. It’s the ways that you see things a little differently that enable you to make a difference.

5. “Real life” is the stuff of sitcom writers and Madison Avenue execs. Complacency is not for you. “It is a growling, snarling, gnashing creature.” Don’t ever let it catch you.

6. What you don’t know will always be vastly larger than what you do know. It’s okay. Realizing this is more than okay. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” ~ Suzuki Roshi

7. The more kind you are to yourself, the more kind you are able to be to others. The more kind you are to others, the more kind you will be able to be to yourself. We’re all blue sky even if it gets a little cloudy sometimes. Maitri helps us remember that. If your relationships are—like Yogi Berra said—”Deja vu all over again,” it’s time to spend a little more time learning to love yourself.

8. Life isn’t A + B = C. Life is “I believe in this, and it’s scary—I don’t know if I can do it, but I’m going to keep trying.” Life is often letting go of what we have planned to choose a different, more authentic adventure.

9. There’s no dollar amount that equals success. If you have one in mind, it’s going to keep changing. It’s elusive. We are rich when we are of benefit. We are rich when we make authentic choices. We are rich because of our friendships.

10. Lists on the internet are hardly ever useful. This is what I’ve learned. A drop in the bucket of what I’ve learned in the 10 years since I graduated from college. A drop in the ocean of what I have left to learn.

So, forget my list. Get offline. Go outside and look at the stars. Go kiss someone. Go do something crazy and stupid and make mistakes and get up and make more mistakes and learn from them. “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

Close my list and don’t even think of starting your own. Just go:

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


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