To the Graduate

Thursday, May 31, 2018

It's almost June, which means graduation season is in full swing. I remember both of my graduations -- from high school, and later from college -- like they were yesterday, and yet so much life has happened since. They are sort of the definition of "one door closing, and another one opening," as Hallmark as that sounds. Graduation means saying goodbye to a certain way of life, a certain routine, certain people, friends, teachers, mentors. It's an event dedicated to celebrating achievements, and they mark the beginning of a new chapter.

If I were to give some advice to a new graduate, here's what I'd say.

Dear Graduate,

Congratulations! You did it. You worked hard, you worked late. You worked doubles, and -- let's be honest -- sometimes you didn't work at all. There were tests you didn't want to take and moments you were sure you'd give up. There were highs -- a well-deserved grade, an eye-opening experience, those nights with your friends -- and there were lows when defeat was so close and so tempting you could taste it. Giving up, or giving in, would have felt easier on so. many. occasions. But you knew the feeling wouldn't last, so you pushed through and now you're here, at the finish line.

Now what? Besides celebrating with the people who have supported you all along the way, where does one go once they cross the finish line? Whether you have an internship or a job lined up, are going to be continuing your education, or have no idea what your next move will be, I have a few pieces of advice from my own lessons learned:

1. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. When you're not sure what to do next, just take a single step. This is also true when your to-do list, or life in general, seems overwhelming. Things don't always have to be achieved overnight or in leaps and bounds. Just put one foot in front of the other. As our Disney friend Dory would say, just keep swimming.

2. Nobody knows what they're doing. It's true! I think this is one of the best kept secrets of adulthood -- most of us are just making it up as we go along. ;) Fake it 'til you make it, right? A college professor of mine once told me that and it stuck with me, and it's never proved so true as in motherhood. As a child, you look at adults and think they know it all, but the truth is -- we don't, and we're learning day by day just like everyone else.

3. Work hard and be kind. If you can master both of those things, you will be successful in whatever you choose to do. Most importantly, always choose to be a good human over being a powerful one. You can climb your way to the top, if that's what you want, more quickly by lifting others up as you go. I promise.

4. Always be honest. You're going to mess up. Mistakes are inevitable. It might seem tempting to try to cover them up or even lie when under fire, but as the old saying goes, honesty is always the best policy. If you can always be honest, you'll never have anything to feel guilty about, even if you do make a mistake. Admit the mistake, apologize, take a lesson from it and move on. That will say more to your employer (and in your personal life) than anything else.

5. Don't forget where you came from. Life's journey will inevitably take you out of your comfort zone and, most likely, out of your hometown. That's a good thing, but it will serve you well if you always keep a little bit of where you came from tucked inside your heart. It was the place, after all, that shaped you, where many of your memories were made, where most of your lessons were learned. It will make you and your story unique. And, when you can, go home. Visit your mom. Drive past some old stomping grounds. Look back fondly and look forward hopefully.

6. Life is just beginning. Someone I grew up with wrote that in my high school yearbook the spring we graduated. It was simple but profound then, and it still is. And it's true. Things can seem so BIG and all-important in the moment, but the world is wide and your adventure is truly just beginning. Just you wait.

So be kind, be true to yourself (even as you find out who that really is), be gracious, be grateful, stay curious, and remember that the best part of life -- even if it's at times one of the scariest parts -- is that every single day, anything can happen. Some of it is up to you, and some of it isn't, but make the best choices you can in the moment and then learn to ride the inevitable waves. It's an amazing ride.

What would you tell your younger self? What advice would you give those graduating from high school or college this year? And just for fun, Steve and me at our college graduation:


  1. This is such a great piece that any college grad should read! I agree with all of it and your photo is so cute - you should write more about your college life! College in America was the best time of my life and I love reading about other people's experiences too. Here's a good one to add - 'forget about your debt. Still travel, have fun and carry on as normal, it will sort itself out (just have a quiet, manageable plan to pay it off each month too).'

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and it rang true for you, too! I completely agree with your tip and feel like there's a whole separate list I could write with those practical pointers, too. ;) My college life was actually NOT that exciting -- but it's always a journey, right?! Maybe I will record that someday soon. I'd love to hear more about your experience, though, because it sounds like it was incredible.

  2. this is perfect for sending to any graduate. I wish I could have read this when I was graduating college.

    1. Aw, thanks! I'm so glad you liked it! There are a ton of practical tips I could include, too, but these are the overarching messages that I wish I would have known back then. ;) xo

  3. #2 is so true! Getting out of school I thought I'd have it all figured out - but alas here I am 9 years later and still not fully sure of what "figured out" means! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

    1. That's my favorite piece of advice!! It really changes your perspective on things and makes you breathe a little sigh of relief. It's about the journey, right? ;) I graduated 9 years ago too!


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