I was going to write all my 2016 friends letters, but I’m lazy and would probably repeat a lot of the same information and, let’s face it, I’m just a terrible friend. So here’s this sad offering instead. Michelle, Tim, Casey, Sofia, Libby, and, yes, Jim, I’m looking at you.
First of all, congratulations! Take a deep breath! Like a really really deep one. YOU DID IT. YOU HAVE DONE IT. IT HAS BEEN DONE BY YOU. I hope you are so very very proud of yourself. You have worked so hard, and overcome so many challenges. You have faced the days when you just couldn’t do it any longer, and you went ahead and did it anyway. You made mistakes and you were sad and disappointed and lonely, and now, you beautiful animal you, you have graduated!
So, do yourself a favor and enjoy that and maybe don’t start your first job a week after working reunion…. but even if you do, that will be an adventure, too!
Here’s all the advice I wish someone had told me when I was graduating (even though they probably did and I just wasn’t paying attention):
- You are basically breaking-up with Carleton. Look, this doesn’t mean you can’t be friends again some day in the future. Something that is comforting to me is the idea that life is (hopefully) long. Your relationship with Carleton runs deep, so take time to move on from what you had to what you have. Don’t try to be over it all in one week. Healing takes time. Loving your new life takes time. Maybe don’t go back and visit three million times in the first month. Maybe don’t keep creeping on Overheard at Carleton. Maybe don’t constantly reminisce about the good old days. Because they were good but you’re missing out on the chance for better. How do I know this? Because I did all of it, and I wish I hadn’t.
- You may be going through break-ups with significant others, too. This is SO DIFFICULT. And it’s okay to admit that. And it’s okay to be lonely and to cry a lot, and to call your sister (or equivalent) too many times and to eat way too many corn dogs on the kitchen floor and to obsess about your ex’s new girlfriend and how she’s so much prettier than you and she’s probably smarter than you and when they get married you won’t even get invited to the wedding and you’ll only find out when they post baby pictures on Facebook and you’ll be alone and broke and still eating corn dogs on the kitchen floor and no one will ever love you ever ever again. It’s okay to feel all these things. But learn from my mistakes and don’t take them out on your ex. Give yourself space from said ex. Don’t immediately try to be best friends with them even though that’s what you really really really want. It turns out you’re not that cool and strong. To my knowledge, no one is. So give yourself time to feel all the crazy awful feels, and when you can think about things as your normal self, then you can see about being friends again. If they understand you need space, it won’t be that big of a deal. We’re young and stupid and full of emotions, and we make mistakes. If they don’t understand, then maybe you can find better friends.
- IT’S HARD OUT HERE. In a million ways you never could imagine in college. Like cooking. Cooking for yourself is hard. You have to get the darn ingredients, make the darn food, eat the darn food even if it’s gross, and then wash all the darn stuff up afterwards. And you have to do this sometimes three times a day. And if you don’t do this then you get hungry. And if you don’t eat the right stuff, after a few months you’re going to be cranky all the time and bruise like a banana. So. Eat vegetables, eat fruits, drink lots and lots of water. Get enough sleep. And go outside whenever you possibly can. Treat yourself nice, because it’s all you on now.
- IT’S BEAUTIFUL OUT HERE. In a million ways you never could imagine in college. What you decide is what you do. There is no one telling you to be in class or to show up to activities, no one saying you have to do such and such job or pay such and such amount for whatever. It’s all on you, baby, and it’s amazing! Independence is cold and lonely and it is wonderful and clean and you get to make your own darn mistakes over and over again.
- You will be okay. Whatever happens, I promise you, you will be okay. Listen, if I could make it through this year, quit my first job out of college, got SUPER dumped and had to stop talking to one of my best friends, went back on anti-depressants, and still have not had a single story published, and if after all that I’m still alive and kicking and somehow traveled to Peru and moving out to California and writing as much as I can… you can do it, too. You will have your own miraculous story about how you survived that first year out of college. And I hope you’ll call me up and tell me all about it. Because
- I am here for you. My friend, we have been through so much together. Not all of it good or pleasant. We may have drifted apart, but know that if ever you need me, I am here. If you need a place to crash, or a care package, or just a friendly voice on the end of the line. I got your back, dude. I am always 110% in your corner. Even if I get mad at you and you get mad at me and we don’t talk for like a month or for the rest of our lives, I’m still here and I still care about you. And so are all your other friends, Carleton or otherwise. If I’ve learned one thing this past year it is the meaning of friendship. Friendship isn’t about talking every day on the phone, or about living down the hallway from each other, it’s that person who would run across campus or drive across the state just to be there for you. You’ve got to find those people and you’ve got to be that person. And I wanna be one of those people for you, too.
With all the most sincere love in my rambling heart. You magnificent people, be free, be well, and be in touch. Congratulations, class of 2016!!!
Here’s a song from me to you.