It’s graduation time, that joyous part of the year when students complete their academic journey or a portion of it. The phrase “real world” is thrown around quite a lot. Oh, the real world is scary, college/working/raising a family is hard, and you’ll have all these awful responsibilities. The message is this: the best years of your life are over.
This is what I wish someone had told me:
Welcome to the real world!
For the last eighteen (or twenty-two years), you have been in school. For eight hours a day–plus the hours you spent on homework–you were subjected to the topics, facts, and opinions that someone else thought were important. Now, you get to choose for yourself what you want to learn. You can choose to learn nothing, or you can choose to read and study whatever you enjoy. You get to choose what you learn.
For eighteen (or twenty-two years), you have earned little or no money for your efforts. Now, you can get paid for doing the things you enjoy. No more going to Mom or Dad for handouts. You have your own cash! And that means you can spend your money however you choose. You can buy whatever you want, save it, or invest it. You get to choose what you do with the money you earn.
For eighteen (or twenty-two) years, you were told what to do. You did chores, did your homework, and went to bed when you were told. Now, you get to choose when and if you do anything. You can be irresponsible and waste time all day long. You can work hard and be productive. It’s up to you. You get to choose what to do with your time.
You get to choose what you want to do with your life. You can have the exact life you want. You are free. With freedom comes responsibility. Yes, you are now responsible for yourself, but look at what you get in exchange: freedom and choice. As you stand on the verge of your adult life, don’t let anyone tell you that the best years of your life are over.
The best years of your life are just beginning.