English major? Cover your eyes.
Adulthood ain't for sissies. Graduate or not, ain't wins out over isn't right here, right now.
Adulthood is like that. General rules are everywhere. So are exceptions.
Some basic truths or rules can soften the blows that most of us experience along the way, or help to extend the good experiences even further.
Whether graduating from high school or college, or in the midst of an advanced degree in living, the following five formulas for living well are culled from my own experiences. If they can make yours a bit easier, then my work here is done.
1. Your work is never done. You could work 24/7, and to-do lists and requests will continue to collect in the corners of your cubicle. Employers will not be with you at your death bed. Loved ones will. Spend after-hours with those who don't pay you to be with them. Call it a day at a reasonable hour - preferably before dinner - and live your evening hours with what and who is most important to you.
2. Death: get comfortable with it. Seriously. We live in a death-phobic culture. (A blog for another day.) And that causes us to live life far too cautiously and too seriously. I'm not saying be stupid and careless. What I am saying is don't worry so much about things that truly don't matter in the end. Life goes by quickly. Appreciate the cycle of birth, death, and all the good stuff in-between, and make the most of it while you're here. Acknowledge that you won't be one day.
3. Life is not linear. The people who want you to create 5, 10, and 20 year plans, and only consider it a success if you stick to them, aren't living in reality. They're likely not much fun, either. Yes, it's good to have a general roadmap and to think about what you might want to accomplish in life. But really, unless you're a Steve Jobs, don't hold yourself to it. Taking unexpected paths and pinging from one current interest to another is part of the adventure of living, Don't short change yourself. The people I've known with the most interesting lives are the ones who grabbed opportunities as they presented themselves. Surprisingly, most previous unrelated experience comes into play later on for the most unexpected reasons and purposes. No experience is ever a waste.
4. Live your life for you, not someone else. If your parents want you to be a doctor, or run the family business, or swear allegiance to a political ideology or belief system, or eat broccoli upside down on Tuesdays, because that's what's been done for generations, find it within yourself to say no, if no is what your soul screams for you to say. The sooner you say no, the better. I've seen too many people who live the role put upon them by obligations to others (see above; also as spouse or parent), who never live for themselves, or wait until they're 40 or 50. Kudos for late-changers, and kudos for those who don't have to change because they followed their heart from the start. It may be challenging to juggle relationships and multiple responsibilities to self and others, but there is always a way if you want or believe something strongly enough. Be strong. Be bold.
5. Make mistakes. The more, the merrier. The sooner, the better. You now have permission. Try ideas, jobs, work, relationships, and adventures, and fail. And then learn. Figure out why it didn't work, and try it again smarter. Or don't try it again at all. If it was a poor decision and your actions hurt someone, apologize, and do better in the future. In any case, move on. The best way to learn is to screw up. When you do, don't be too hard on yourself. Don't accept others being hard on you, either. Know that one fail - or 20 - does not define you. You are more than that. You are a life adventurer. Life adventurers follow a path of do, fail, adapt, succeed.
So there you have it: a starter kit of five life truths.
Look forward to the adventures ahead. Don't be scared. Don't be nervous. We're all in this together and we've all been right where you are. And we survived. You will, too.
Speaking of, I'll share about surviving my own graduations later this week in my video blog. Hear about one of my life's goals - which is on no timeframe whatsoever, but maybe you can help make it happen. Yikes - now I'm committed.
As you face decisions about next steps, don't stress over which paths to take. Any one path is seldom ever 'wrong.' There is no perfect path or perfect life, even if some people's lives might look perfect from the outside. (That's a freebie sixth bonus point, just for reading.) We're all flawed human beings doing the best we can.
So go forth into your fabulous future, flawed human! I'll meet you there, flaws and all. And we'll celebrate being the daring life adventurers that we are.
About Kris Harty: Kris is founder and CEO of shortCHICK, llc, She helps smart people like you move from overwhelm and obstacles, to over it and moving on, in life and work, Step by Step. She's a speaker, author, podcaster, and creative, giving voice to hope, joy, encouragement, and wisdom.
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