I just finished reading Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse – One TwentySomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood by Alida Nugent. I’ll save my full critique for my next book review, but I wanted to share a snippet of Nugent’s “commencement speech” to fellow grads. I graduated a little over two years ago, but I think this is even more applicable to me now. It’s a little lengthy, but I promise it’s worth the read.
Constantly try to do better. Push yourself to do better than you did the day before. I’m telling you this because there are certainly going to be times when your’e not going to want to do better; you might not want to do anything but sulk. You think it was bad when you were pulling all-nighters in college? Don’t worry, it gets worse.
Don’t become stagnant – even if you’re working at a fry station, the worst thing you can do with your life now is to become stagnant in it. Nobody is telling you what to do anymore – you are your own teacher, your own boss, your own captain. You have to constantly push yourself to get better, or else you will get stuck. You are too smart and too bright and spent too much money at this school to get stuck. Do better. Become a mental athlete. Push yourself so much its sickening. Stagnant water is full of mosquitoes, remember that.
The next couple of years are going to be the best, most alive of your life. Now, I know they said this when you were graduating high school, and then they said it about the college years, but I think that is because life is always getting better. Really, the postcollege years will be some of the most fun you’ll ever have.
You’ll find people, friends, and family who you stick with not because you are in the same classes, but because you want these people to be your buddies in combat. They will meet you for lunch when you’re worried about having HPV or getting fired. They will be your lifeboat, your 2am phone call, your “I like you because understand me and not because we are in Lit 101 together.”
You will lose touch with people you thought you wouldn’t, watch from a distance while these people get married, gain weight, lose weight, move across the country, and get new sets of friends you will never meet. But you will look at your pictures of them and remember the nights you drank too much rum with them and you will enjoy those moments immensely. You will know what it is like to experience true nostalgia. It will not be a bittersweet kind of thing, because you know that it’s not as much growing apart as it is growing up.
There will be successes, and failures, and a lot of good and bad things. You will watch yourself and the people you choose to be with fall in love and get married, get jobs, get fired, get a terrible tattoo, have babies, get sick, get better, get worse, lose parents, grow older, grow smarter. Things will flash forward, pass before your eyes like the lights at a terrible nightclub.
You will feel more alive now than ever before, this I promise you. Grab this time before it goes away.