Dear little brother,
You know that I love you. I demonstrated this in the most sacrificial of ways when I got up at 5:30 a.m. today (on a precious vacation day, no less) to get to your college graduation three hours early to get a good seat (that I couldn’t see you from anyway). As I sit here pretending to watch 4,499 students that aren’t you process in the arena for the big moment, I had some time to jot down some thoughts and advice I wanted to share with you as you enter the post grad world.
Your Degree Doesn’t Mean Shit.
I hesitated to tell you this as you worked toward this achievement over the last five years (note: it was a legit five-year program, he’s not stupid), but the bottom line is that piece of paper you just put yourself into an endless hole of debt for is relatively useless. Seriously. Humble brag: I have three (soon to be four) of them and literally no one cares.
Strangely though, this is also good news. It means that just because you majored in computer science doesn’t mean you have to be an IT nerd forever. If you do it for a while and decide you don’t like it, then you can go do something else, like go to grad school or get a job in another field. See, there’s a silver lining to that piece of paper being about as valuable as a share of MySpace stock – you aren’t locked in.
Your First Job Will Likely Suck.
As usual, you declined to listen to my expert advice and decided to head out into the job market instead of putting off reality by continuing your education. I get it, though – you’re one of those rare lucky bastards that received a job offer before graduation and the five figures in your yearly salary were enticing after making a pittance at some lowly campus work/study. But once taxes and some dude name FICA take away a chuck of that (not to mention how much of it goes toward the aforementioned student loan debt) and you learn that being the new guy usually means all of the shit work, you will realize that big sister knew what she was talking about. Trust.
But also know that you aren’t alone. Most people will tell you to seek out a mentor, someone in your industry that can give you a hand up. Sure, that’s solid advice, but here’s a different take: make friends with the other lowly entry-level peeps too. They are the ones that are going to help you out when you fuck up, cover your ass when you get overwhelmed, and commiserate about how much being the low man on the totem pole totally blows.
You’re Going To Fuck Up.
Speaking of fucking up…yes, even you, prodigal youngest child who can do no wrong, are going to make mistakes. Maybe it will be at work (that’s where those work friends will come in handy) or maybe it will be in your relationships, or with your finances, or in one of a million other ways. Bottom line: you are definitely going to fuck up, likely more than once.
But here’s the difference between being a kid and being a semi-functioning adult: you need to own it. There’s no one else to blame anymore, and while you’ll likely feel overwhelmed, underprepared, and at a complete loss of control, the only one responsible for you is you. Scary shit, right?
But you know what? Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think. Maybe you’ll actually even learn from it. Or at the very least, you won’t make the same mistake twice. Hopefully.
Your new job is taking you from Boston to New York City, so I’ll pretend that’s you taking my advice instead of being circumstantial. I’m actually super sad that you are leaving, because you won’t be here to move heavy things for me or pick on our middle brother with me, but I’m also secretly jealous. I always wanted to try living somewhere else, but the circumstances were never right, and now I’m a locked-in homeowner. So fly little bird, fly away.
And when you do, realize how lucky you are to have the opportunity, since a bunch of your classmates are going to be moving back in with mom and dad. Sure, it’s actually a smart move; everyone always tells you to stay with your parents for a year so that you can save money so you’re better off when moving out. But what most people don’t know is that living at home provides some valuable opportunities to develop skills that will serve you well in your career. The better you get at lying to your parents about why you look like shit in the morning, the better you’ll be at lying to your boss about it. Get kicked out of the bar last night? Try explaining the bags under your eyes to mom and pop with honesty, while also shining a positive light on yourself. It’s a hard skill to learn, but it’s one you’re going to have to pick up somewhere.
So there you have it, some words of wisdom for you on graduation day. Now, knowing that you are just as stubborn as your big sister, I realize that the odds of you taking any of this advice to heart are slim to none, but hey, it gave me a way to pass the time as I sat on these bleachers waiting for you to get that empty folder that will eventually contain your diploma once the university gets around to mailing it to you. But even if you take nothing away from this at all, know one thing: I’m pretty proud of you. So just text me once and a while from NYC so I know you haven’t been hit by a bus, okay?
Image via @HtotheGola