A few weeks ago I received an email from a 2012 college graduate asking me for advice for the next chapter of her life. As I contemplated what to tell her, I thought it might be worth sharing here on MML as well for other new grads too.
However, this morning as I decided what I would say to this lovely lady (and other lovely ladies at large), I got a bit fearful. Sure, there are a lot of things I think would be helpful. But since everyone has their own unique situation in life, how can I possibly address all of their needs perfectly and say just the right things that they need to hear?
How can I make individual advice… universal?
Then it hit me. I was a 2007 graduate myself and have recently now celebrated five years in the post-college world. So why not write the letter to my own 22-year-old self (shown above)?
Rather than try to speak to everyone’s unique situations, I am going to write a letter just to Graduating Jess from 2007. I’m going to tell her all that I wish she could know at that time.
My hope is that by sharing my advice to Younger Me, I will somehow help other women.
Dear Younger Me,
As you graduate today I know you have a lot of bravery in your heart. You have decided to take a road less travelled in your career from the start. And quite honestly, a lot of people (including those graduating with you) think you are bit stupid or crazy for going after your dream. But I cannot applaud you enough for having the guts (and innocence) to go through with it. Over the next few years, especially in the beginning, you will doubt your choice and you will get even more criticism.
Please remember to just keep going. Even when things are tough.
Because there will be tough times ahead.
Also, please do not underestimate your strength. I know right now you have seen yourself succeed at many things in school as well as quit, give up, and fear others. What the next few years will prove to yourself cannot be cheapened. You will face hard times, uncertainty, and heartbreak.
But you will go on. You will do great things.
I know that some people are choosing careers that make them gobs of money. And part of you wishes that you could budget, and have the same kinds of perks that they do.
But what you do not realize right now is that those who are going after careers for money and not passion are going to be disillusioned and many will even lose their jobs during an impending recession.
Many who right now mock your decision to work for yourself will later wish they could do the same.
Some of your friends will remain unsure as to what they want to really do with their lives and will go into grad school as a way to stall. To give themselves time to figure it all out. But those who go in without a clear plan will ultimately find themselves with heaps of student loans and still remain unsure.
You will also find yourself living in a
tiny humble studio apartment for the next two years. Please treat this studio like the palace you wish it was. Clean it, decorate it, and give it the same respect you would give a three bedroom condo in Lincoln Park. How you treat your “stuff” now will reflect how well you will be ready for future blessings.
Also, you will one day find that your current relationship will end. Though this will be difficult to process, you will find love again. Please do not later get distracted by another man, an extreme opposite from the first relationship. This too will not be a good fit for you. Please weigh both lover’s personalities and find the middle ground that has the best of both. You will eventually find someone with the mix of loyalty, calm, and wit that you are looking for.
Remember to explore your spirituality and find prayer again. This will get you through many difficult seasons in your life. The more you also study the first three habits of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, your favorite book, the more you will find yourself ready for life’s challenges.
In addition, I know this may sound scary, but please begin to give yourself up to service as soon as possible. At first it will seem strange to pray and offer to be used for whatever purpose there might be for you. But as soon as you start making this conscious decision, doors will begin to open. You will find the joy that you are seeking.
But more than any of this, please remember to floss. Your health insurance will not be that great as you work for yourself.
And cavities cost $300 to fill.
With all my love,