Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Dear Boston College Senior:
Congratulations! You have been accepted into the “Real World” for the term 2012–rest of your life. You should be particularly proud, as this year was especially competitive. Millions of college seniors hoped to enter the real world and some of them did not make it. Most of them did, though. Nevertheless, you should hold your head high and be proud of your accomplishment. As you conclude the “best four years of your life” and prepare for the next 50 years or so, we would like to provide you with a little guidance to ease your transition.
Your freshman year in the real world will have its difficulties. You’ll be forced to make new friends and adapt to a totally new environment. Many of you will be moving away from BC for the first time. This might cause some initial shock to you, which we humbly request you stop complaining about and just deal with it. Don’t like our tone? Tough. If you don’t like it, you should have deferred your acceptance to the real world and applied to graduate school.
Be prepared for people to hold your age against you. You are the new kid. As the new kid you will be expected to endure a series of snarky comments. We, in the real world, love snarky comments. We pretend they’re funny so the day will go by faster. I can almost guarantee you that at your first office party someone will see you holding a beer and they will make some comment about checking your ID. This joke will be received with uproarious laughter at the next six office functions. Yes, it is nauseating but there are two reasons for it.
First, we are jealous of your youth. That’s right, the terrifying feeling you have right now of life being uncertain, we would kill for that. Do you understand how exciting it is to be unsure of what comes next? You should never be afraid of not knowing what lies ahead. It is far more depressing when you know precisely what does.
The second reason is because you’re a fool. That’s right. It turns out your fancy liberal arts education has left you almost entirely unprepared for the job you’re actually working. Don’t worry; your friends at vocational schools are even worse off. They were promised they would be prepared and they’re not. At least you read some good books. You will realize quickly that there is a vast amount of practical knowledge that you have to learn on the job.
You’re going to make countless mistakes. So don’t walk in on day one like you’re the smartest person in the building. If you do, your co-workers will knock you down a peg. You’ll probably deserve it.
Your professional embarrassment will spill over into other aspects of your life. At bars, you will be like a freshman at a Mod party all over again. At points you will think you are still in college and get drunk on a Tuesday night. You will pay the consequences the next morning when you realize that your body no longer tolerates that kind of behavior. You might miss college after you leave it, but I guarantee you, you will miss it a lot more if you spend all of your time acting like you’re still in it.
There will be many boring moments ahead. In the real world you drink a lot of coffee and sign a lot of documents. This much is certain. For some of you those documents will be reports at work. For some, it will be a mortgage on your first home. Still others, it will be a plea bargain. Regardless, there will be documents and you will be well caffeinated while signing them.
Are you sufficiently depressed yet? Most of this acceptance letter has been rather bleak. Imagine if your college acceptance letter included all of the embarrassments and hardships you went through in your first year of college. What if it described all the boring core classes you sat through? You probably would have been terrified to come here. Yet, four years later, you likely look back at that time with fondness and appreciation for the growth you underwent and the lessons you learned.
There is still excitement ahead. I am certain that there will be a moment, sometime within the next 10 years, where for the first time you will know that you are an adult. It might come as soon as graduation day when they hand you your diploma. It might come when you move into your apartment or start your job. Maybe it will come when you get married, or perhaps, when your best friend gets married. It’s also possible it will come at a moment far less significant. But, I imagine the moment is one of great excitement and absolute terror. You will at once feel completely empowered and totally alone. Maybe this terrifies you. Or, maybe you can’t wait for it to happen. Either way, it should be exciting.
Spend your last three weeks as an undergraduate taking it all in. Enjoy the last paper you have to write. Listen intently to that final lecture. Stop on your way to class and look around you. It’s a beautiful campus with beautiful people. Etch that image into your memory.
Thank the professors that meant the most to you. Thank your friends. This doesn’t have to be a goodbye, just an occasion to show your appreciation. You don’t want to leave BC the day after commencement having wished you thanked certain people or had a nice dinner with your closest friends.
There is nothing to be afraid of outside the confines of Chestnut Hill. In fact, there is a lot of excitement awaiting you. These next 10 years are going to be eventful. There will perhaps never be a time in your life where you are as in control of your future as you are now.
Decide what really makes you happy and go and do it. There will be times where you will be miserable or bored or feel unfulfilled. That’s life. But don’t spend your time wishing the day would end or the weekend would come. You don’t want to spend precious days of your life wishing away time you can never have back. We’re only here for so long. Life isn’t easy, but you should enjoy it the best you can.
Welcome to the real world. It’s a pleasure to have you.