(Two recent graduates sharing the unfiltered, post-graduation inspiration
they wish they were told.)
Hello Gems! We’re Sydney and Brooklyn, from Little Box of Rocks, and we’re here to write a few words in hopes of helping all the semi-distressed souls going through the transition from high-school into the “real world” (Ick...) Even more importantly, we’re here to help the full-on distressed souls searching for the perfect words of wisdom to write to their beloved new graduate.
Trust us. Being fresh out of high school, the last thing your bright-eyed little Gem wants to hear is some bland and out of touch insight that they’ve heard a thousand times before. (“Reach for the stars,” anyone?) So here are a few of the things we really wanted to read in our graduation cards. Get ready to take notes.
“What do you want to do with your life?” always feels like such a loaded question, especially to those of us that haven't been planning our long road through medical school since we were in fifth grade. (Like ew blood… no thanks!) Since not all of us can be the real-life Christina Yang, a lot of us leave high school feeling like we’re already failing because we haven't picked our life plan and carved it into stone. But the truth is we don't need to! High school is such a small fraction of our lives and those graduating from it have time. No one should ever feel pressured to make a huge life-altering decision if they’re not ready for it. Deep down we know this, but it would be SO nice if you would affirm this for us.
We all know that the world is not what it used to be 20+ (or even 5+) years ago. Sure, in our parents’ day the path was usually the same. Finish high school, go to college, get a job, get a house, have a family, pay your bills, pay your bills, and pay your bills. However, for many in our generation, a life this structured is just quite simply not something that we aspire to. These days, the world is changing so quickly, and we want to be a part of it! (Heck, there are people with full-time, lucrative jobs which consist of posting YouTube videos.) So please tell us that it’s okay to follow a different path than you did.
Yes, maps are great for going where people have already gone, but we want to carve out own unique paths. After graduating is the perfect time to explore, take risks, and maybe even make a few mistakes. So please encourage us to go out and explore. Let us know that this is our time to relentlessly pursue the things that we are passionate about. Many of us are hoping to do this anyway, and your words of support will give us a much-needed boost of encouragement.
Don't get us wrong, we realize that there are things that will require more responsibility now. But please reassure us that we can continue to have a bit of child-like fun. Deep down, we’re afraid of losing this precious part of ourselves. So tell us (or better yet, show us) that we can stay kid-like for as long as our hearts desire. (After all, we’ve seen how ridiculous you can act with your friends when you think we’re not watching…)
Give us a push. We see all the ways in which you’ve become successful and we look up to you. But why not tell us about some of your failures, or opportunities that you missed? Tell us about the dreams you were too afraid to pursue and why. Currently we’re brimming with dreams and fears too, and knowing that you’ve been in our shoes might just make the difference between us taking action, or talking ourselves out of something that has the potential to be truly extraordinary.
And now for the practical: please encourage us to find a way of staying organized – and to stick to it. Better yet, tell us how YOU manage to stay organized. Life is overwhelming for a new graduate, but you’ve been through it! We’d love a few practical tips on juggling it all.
I’m sure it’s no surprise that we kind of love the fact that we don't have teachers shoving reading assignments at us on a daily basis. But this doesn’t mean that we haven’t developed a genuine love of learning. What we’d love from you are some of your favourite inspirational books, podcasts, or documentaries, so why not give us a little reading list of your own? (We promise we’ll spare you the eye-roll.)
Similar to #7, just because we don't have a school curriculum forcing physical activity on us, doesn’t mean we want to turn into couch potatoes, eating hot Cheetos in a pillow fort. (At least not every day.) We’d love to hear how you keep your body moving in a way that you enjoy.
This is new for us. After 12+ years of making friendship a primary focus, losing friends after graduating can be pretty disturbing. Please reassure us that not only is it okay to grow apart from some of our closest BFFs – but also that it’s normal, and sometimes even necessary.
As we are saying goodbye to high school, and saying hello to the rest of our lives, tell us to go out there swinging – to, if necessary, fight tooth-and-nail to honor our truest selves, and most importantly, to find our own unique brand of happiness.