Congratulations Class of 2013

I had a stark realization yesterday morning while routinely unrolling the morning Gazette before work. Pictures of cap and gowns, diplomas and quotes from inspirational commencements speeches were displayed prominently on the front page and Cities section of my local paper. Another group of eager, confident young people had stepped off the stage with glorious dreams of success. My first thought went to the new graduates moving out into the hazy abyss known to many as the “real world.” Are they ready? Have they been prepared? Underneath these questions was a much deeper fear. Am I ready for them?

Recalling my last 12 months after college is strange and bittersweet. I feel their breath on the back of my neck as they sprint forward along the next leg of their journey. How far have I ran since graduation? Am I on the right path? I looked up wise words for the graduates:

Katelyn Tsukada’s Five Practical Tips Post-College:

Never judge your success based on your peers or your bank account. Comparisons are inevitable but remember your self worth, job title and future dreams are not defined by your surroundings.

Read often. With a completed undergraduate degree, assigned readings and lengthy PDFs become things of the past. It’s much easier to add names to a “Must Read” list than to cross any off. As TV show re-runs become more appealing than a bestselling novel, have a cup of tea and make time for a book.

Remain in touch but stay present. Your best friends no longer live one door over or across the hall. Some went home, got jobs on the opposite coast, or packed a suitcase for an overseas adventure. The Internet allows you to stay connected with these close friends easier than ever before. Just remember that your future life will attract equally inspirational and life-long friendships. Keep all doors open.

Learn to cook (and bake). Mac and cheese is super convenient but even the best boxed variety isn’t appropriate for dinner guests or parent drop-in visits. Begin to accumulate reliable recipes for a delicious home-cooked meal and freshly baked desserts. You’ll look like a superstar the next time a new friend invites you to a potluck or picnic.

Enjoy being alone. Making friends, going on dates and planning movie nights will certainly be harder after the college campus environment. Your next couple days, months and years will inevitably include mornings and nights alone. Savor these moments. Try a beginner meditation class or take a walk around your neighborhood. Reintroduce yourself to the uniqueness of you.

Be wary of the question “Why bother?” Life isn’t always about the life-changing mission or the personal career choice. Monumental decisions are backed up and followed by innumerable smaller choices like reading the daily news and baking late at night to surprise a co-worker on her birthday. Think about others often.

Congratulations Class of 2013 and don’t fear. The best is still yet to come.

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