10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Graduated From College

by Borderstan.com May 11, 2012 at 8:00 am 2,369 1 Comment


It's that time of the year. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Scott Thompson writes a biweekly column for Borderstan.com.

From Scott Thompson. Follow Scott on Twitter @foureyedblond or email him at thompson[AT]@borderstan.com.

Graduation season has arrived.

From Boston to Baton Rouge, undergraduate and graduate students will sport caps, gowns, and hangovers as they prepare for their first foray into “the real world.”  In May 2005, I did the same thing, under the blistering shade of a magnolia tree on Wake Forest University’s quad. Today, as I reflect on the past seven years, I deemed it appropriate to share a few personal lessons and words of wisdom with the Class of 2012.

1)  You can never be too rich, too thin, or too sober at the office holiday party.
Because there are only so many times you can apologize to your coworker for putting down your glass of free Chardonnay, spinning her around, and reenacting the “armpit caress” choreography from “Dirty Dancing” directly in front of your CEO.

2)  ZipCar and Supermarket Sweep require identical strategic planning.
ZipCar has redefined twenty-something urban mobility in America. It has also redefined time management. You will never be as efficient as the moment you step out of a ZipCar and into the foyer of a suburban Target, fully aware that within exactly 47 minutes you need to complete your shopping list, fill the trunk, drive Sandra Bullock-style back into town, park the car, empty the trunk, and devise a way to carry that stainless steel trash can up the street with one hand.

3)  The road to alcoholism is paved with good brunch invitations.
In the real world, the telltale sign of a problem is not “Why was i dancing on a radiator at Sigma Nu at 2am?” but rather “Why did I move directly from an 11:45 am Ibuprofen tablet to a noon bottomless mimosa?”

4) Just because he’s at the karaoke bar, doesn’t mean he’s gay.
Or not moving to St. Louis for medical school. In the fall. With his girlfriend.

5)  Pasta > Pinstripes.  
You will undoubtedly laugh and sneer when you open an envelope from your grandparents, containing a gift card to Safeway or Subway. You will long for the days of yesteryear when you received gift certificates to Banana Republic…right up until that moment at the end of the month, when your bank account hits zero and you’re knee deep in winter clothes in your closet,  desperate to find the one forgotten item that stands between you and starvation.

6)  Avoid looking at Facebook photos at the office.
Because you, too, cannot explain why you are mid-way through your coworker’s sister’s study abroad album.

7)  Receiving a wedding invitation in the mail is the same as receiving a bill.
A wedding invitation is the most exciting, beautiful, and difficult-to-open item a twenty-something can receive in the mail. But the allure will quickly fade. Beneath that espresso/bluebell organza ribbon lurks a draconian Emily Post list of travel and shopping requirements that may necessitate a spleen donation.

8)  Your mother, if she is smart, will buy a maroon leather sofa and charge phone calls by the hour.
Many economists claim that U.S. GDP does not accurately take into account activities not provided through the market. In no sphere is this more apparent than the weekly psycho therapeutic phone services provided by mothers to recent graduates. Whether it’s responding to an emotional cry for advice after a break-up, or a “They will notice that typo in my cover letter, I JUST KNOW IT,” mothers provide America’s largest out-of-network mental health service.

9)  “Naked Juice” Calories Per Serving: 180.
Servings per container:  Two.

10) By the time you’re 30, you’ll likely be in a career you had never imagined — which is how it should be.
Most graduates have a set idea in their head about where their career path will lead. This plan will likely change as you progress through your twenties. You may find yourself in a job you never knew you would hate – or in a career you never knew you would love. Take and learn from every new opportunity that comes your way.

As Erma Bombeck wisely stated, “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”

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