Dear Sir or Ma’am,
Sometime today, or tomorrow, or one day over the next few weeks, you will graduate from your liberal arts college. Shortly afterwards you’ll be taken to a nice restaurant by your parents, spend one last night partying with your friends, and by all accounts live out some variation of a Dave Matthews song. Six hours later, hungover, you’ll unceremoniously pack up a car or U-Haul and drive to wherever’s next. It could be Chicago; it could be Hoboken. Wherever it is, it’s the FUTURE and something for which neither your Kierkegaard seminar nor advanced pottery workshop could possibly prepare you. With or without honors, you are now a lamb to the slaughter.
Graduating in 2008 (or getting your GED, then “roaming”) bore the twin weirdness of voting for a candidate forever linked to the word “Hope” and realizing, all too quickly, that we were entering a world way shittier than we could have imagined. Even three years and thousands of Serenity Prayers later, it’s still no McDonald’s Play Place. Gas prices refuse to go down, despite our asking nicely. Anecdotally, one out of every five of our peers seems to be unemployed. People are growing beards who shouldn’t grow beards, all because “why not?” It’s a SHAMBLES. I don’t care how many free events blogs you subscribe to — there is nothing about “taking a lovely stroll” you can consider a viable substitute for bungee-jumping or skeet-shooting, both of which I’m confident college grads used to do on a regular basis. The modern twenty-something existence today is closer to ‘The Road’ than it is ‘Friends,’ and with even fewer shopping carts because your buddy in Bushwick stole a bunch for his found art project.
…So this is the world into which you enter, my child. Sounds grim, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it is. But there is some wisdom those that came before you can offer, pro-tips that might help you, my Unborn Class of 2011 Graduate, navigate the harsh and often “wha’ happened?”-eliciting game of Life: Freshman Year.
- Sometime in the next eight months you will be sweating about finances and think, briefly, “would it really be the worst thing ever to sell my body?” And it wouldn’t, honestly. You could probably make some good money, especially if you’ve been showering regularly! But whatever moral dilemma exists here will be rendered moot when the thought leaves your head before you can return to it with a business model and clear plan of attack. No harm no foul!
- There are taxes that the government expects you to pay. Feel free to protest this legalized robbery on your Tumblr, Twitter feed, or outside your doorman’d apartment building, but be sure to really pay them when the time comes. Hint: this is not like that scene in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ (the first one) where they joke about “guidelines.”
- Every so often you’ll decide that you need to “better yourself” and, rather than reading ‘Ulysses,’ you’ll make time to rent some critically acclaimed HBO or AMC series on Netflix. Everyone will tell you to start with ‘The Wire’. You can, but right now it’s still easiest to go ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Deadwood’ first, then build from there. No need to go diving into the deep end, just yet!
- Try to get a job. If you can’t get a job, land an internship but tell all your friends it’s a job. See how easy it is to flex those creative muscles? If even an internship is unattainable, and it’s still less than three months since graduation, tell everyone you’re “decompressing.” Afterwards you can teach piano or something.
- Selecting the right roommates is even more important after college than it was during, because now people are paying rent and whining about their jobs. Ask yourself: “who would I want whining to me about their job at 3 in the morning?” “If ____ loses their job, is he the kind of person who will always be home watching ‘Breaking Bad’?” Considering these kinds of hypotheticals will only make your roommate search that much more fruitful.
- What is your favorite alcoholic drink? Now that you’ve graduated from “Pre-Adult” to “Adult-in-Training,” everyone will expect you to have some sort of “usual” that they can order for you without fear of some PTSD episode (no tequila, por favor!) or potential embarrassment. It’s also a chance to really construct your own image. Like a car or pair of glasses, your drink says a lot about you. Do you want to be a douchebag? A sorority girl at heart? A New Jersey dock worker? There are drinks for each of these personalities.
- Just stop pretending now and unsubscribe from that ACLU mailing list.
I have so many more pearls to offer you, my child, but I imagine you’re feeling overwhelmed right now and want to retreat to a familiar hacky sack circle or pizza place with “like, the best slices ever.” I encourage you to please go, and enjoy; be at peace. You have only so many moments left in which to sing and love, because it’s about to get a whole lot worse.