THE COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS NO ONE ASKED FOR

Posted in No Politics Friday on May 20th, 2017 by Ed

Class of 2017 graduates,

I want to take this opportunity to offer you the benefits, unsolicited, of all the wisdom I've accumulated in the two decades since I was in your position: fresh out of college and about to enter adulthood against my will. It is not in the nature of 18-22 year olds to take advice, but it is in the nature of people nearing 40 to look back on the advice they received and realize that some of it was helpful. So, without further literary foreplay, please remember the following as you move forward in life:

1. The two areas in which you should never try to economize are toilet paper and airplane tickets. One-ply toilet paper will save you a buck or two, but the costs of failure are catastrophic. Spend the extra money. And you will be enticed by the ticket on Spirit Airlines or something similar because it is $100 cheaper than every other fare. By the time you realize how miserable your flight experience is, combined with all the extra fees they will hit you with for the privilege of getting on the plane with your luggage, you will find that you didn't save money at all. You just flew a shittier airline and were more miserable than absolutely necessary.

2. Guac is extra. Guac is always extra, and honestly it's overpriced and not worth it. Avocados taste vaguely like soap.

3. Learn to cook a handful of things. It doesn't have to be fancy. The money you spend dining out will do more damage to your budget than you realize.

4. Leave your college town now. You're done there. It will be tempting to stick around because you like it and it's familiar. It will become sad very quickly, though, when you are That Guy Who Graduated and is Hanging Around Townie-Like. Moving sucks. Making new friends as an adult is hard. Do it anyway.

5. Don't go back to your hometown either. There is nothing there for you. Do things that have a future, not a past.

6. Everything sucks right now, and whatever job you find is likely to suck. I'm sorry. We are all sorry. But any extended period of idleness will make it that much harder to get into the workforce later. Tough it out. Often after a year or two in the basement of any profession you can make some connections that will better your standing in a couple of years. Who you know is important.

7. Take it easy with the alcoh…oh fuck it, you will probably spend your entire 20s drunk. Why not. It's the last time your body will be able to handle "partying" as you currently define it.

8. Buy one outfit now, and possibly an outfit that has the ability to be altered, for weddings. You are going to go to about 100 weddings in the next five to ten years and it can get really pricey fast.

9. Don't worry if everyone else is getting married and you're not. Statistically, half of these marriages will fail. It's OK. It's life.

10. This is the best time in your life to fail at anything. The consequences are less severe right now than they ever will be. In ten or fifteen years when you have more responsibilities – children, spouses, financial obligations, etc. – it will be extremely costly and impractical to move to Hollywood and try to become an actor, or write the great American novel, or open a small business, or try to unicycle across Siberia, or work on a cruise ship to see the world drunk and for free, or give it a go with your band, or set yourself up to provide a service that it may turn out is not in demand, or open that bar, or anything else. For most of the ideas and goals you have that do not involve working a fairly dull job for a paycheck, it's now or likely never. You can try something like this and fail miserably at 25 without crippling your future. At 55, you can't. It's OK. The hoary inspirational advice is right: a lot of very successful people went bankrupt, sometimes multiple times. If there is something you want to try that you will end up regretting if you don't try it, do it now. If you fail, nobody except you will feel the failure. And then you'll be young enough to start over.

11. Don't go to grad school unless you actually want to go to grad school. It's too pricey now to go just because you can't think of anything else to do.

12. Get an adult email address. Nobody is going to hire "FingrBlastr420@___.com." And while you're at it, go to a good bar and figure out which Adult Drink you like. You can't go to professional events with adults and ask for the neon flavored vodka nonsense at college bars.

13. Never let inertia make decisions for you. You don't have to marry him just because you've been dating for so long. You don't have to keep working at Job X because you've been there for 15 years already and blah blah. You don't have to buy a house just because it's that time, or because everyone else is doing it. You always have a choice about these things. Maybe getting married, having 2.3 kids, buying a house, and all that stuff is perfect for you. Just remember that you don't have to do any of it unless you really want to. The leading cause of unhappiness in the affluent world is people making choices to do things they do not actually want to do. When you think hard about it, there is very little you "have to" do.

14. If you don't have hobbies or interests, get some. Beyond college it is very difficult to meet other adults to socialize with.

15. Get out of the house. Nothing good happens to someone who is sitting at home alone. Go do activities you might not be super excited about or attend events that are only marginally interesting. Sitting around alone is a good way to ensure nothing changes. You want things to change, and change for the better. Get out and meet people. Most of the people you meet in your twenties will amount to nothing in your life, but one or two of them will make all the difference.

Everything is Terrible All the Time,
Ed