To All College Seniors
I can already see the Facebook posts bombarding our feeds, the anxiety washing over the faces of our friends, the scrutiny and contemplation of a future washing over our own. Which is why I am writing to us now, before entering senior year, before becoming coddled in the whirlpool of questions, labels, and self-promoting social media posts.
Do not worry. Do not worry about life, in general.
But specifically, do not worry about the aunt that asks you what you are doing with your life. Do not worry about the old friend that asks in a polite but slightly-menacing voice, “Have you thought about what you’re doing next year?”. Do not even worry about yourself, when you ask yourself “What the fuck am I doing next year? What the fuck am I doing the next 5 years? What the fuck am I doing right now?”
There is no need to worry, ever. Worrying is what causes anguish. Planning is what brings opportunity. But there is a fine line that we must distinguish, where planning transforms into worrying, and that fine line is almost always crossed when we are faced with what to do after college. Plan, and plan wholeheartedly. But don’t stress over the details. Don’t plan the next ten years of your life, because you might not even be alive then. Or you might be freed in eternal enlightenment after completing your spur-of-the-moment journey to become a Buddhist monk. Who knows.
The point is, have an idea, but understand that these ideas, these plans, these constructed forms of security known as “grad school” or “work” do not define your life. Just because you are going to graduate school after college does not mean you will feel 100% secure, or 100% set on the career path you are choosing. And in all honesty, no one will. That’s not the point. The point is that we can feel 100% in our lives, if the combination of people, pursuits, and passions align with our interests and values. It is not all about work, it is not about the fancy title of a Ph.D, it is not about working for Google, and it never will be.
I think when we are 80 years old we might finally realize this - that life is simply not a thing we can productively worry about. But in these brief moments where we aren’t caught up in the status quo, or transformed into caveman SpongeBob in face of the questions asked of us, we can kind of see it: that we do not need to worry. Let us take the time that we have right now, and be happy to have it. Jump off the walls. Because there is no other time like it – there is no saying what we’ll be doing in the next five years and that is pretty f-ing special.
It may be that the most beautiful thing about life is that we have no clue, it throws us around and turns us in all directions, showing us new things we love, new people we love, and new parts of ourselves that we love. Once we have careers, we will likely have an idea as to what the next 10 years will be like. Right now we get to dibble dabble. Travel. Work in something we might be passionate about but might be wrong for.
It’s all good. In fact, it’s always good.
Because no one has a clue as to what the hell they’re doing.
Your mom? No clue.
Your dad? No clue.
Humans in general, have no clue. Because life is a confusing, direction-changing, but most-of-all awesome journey. It’s sad, it’s difficult, it’s enjoyable, it’s enlightening. It’s downright breathtaking. So make sure you live it, more than you plan it.
There is no use planning the next twenty years of your life, because things happen, plans change, you change. You might adopt a pet cat out of nowhere, and then in a year that pet cat dies when some idiot kid flies a drone into its face. Then you’re unexpectedly moved by that, you’re depressed, you didn’t realize it but your pet cat was one of your best friends. So you drop everything and join a cat talent agency. You work for a few months, and then hit rock bottom. What the fuck are you doing at a cat talent agency? You call up your best friend and sob while eating some new health fad – baked dirt perhaps. Then you decide to go for what you always wanted to do. And who knows what that is? Maybe it’s something you loved as a kid, maybe it’s something you love now. But you go for it, it makes you happy, you keep doing it. You keep living life. And you laugh at the memories you had working at that cat talent agency, because that’s fucking hilarious.
What I’m saying is, don’t worry. Give a damn, but only about what truly matters - about living now and living good. Enjoy what you’re doing. Whatever it is that you’re doing. Enjoy it. All of it. Because once we recognize the choice we have to enjoy every aspect of life that we can, right now, then the pursuit for happiness becomes the persistence of happiness. And that is what it’s all about.