SOMEONE YOU KNOW is about to flip a tassel this month, and you’ll probably be scanning the card section for the right message to give the graduate. Save yourself some shopping time: The message the graduate (or anyone, come to think of it) wants to receive is simply, “Here’s some money.”
Commencement speakers also could take a tip from this jar. Year after year, everyone at any graduation across the country knows what the keynote speakers are going to say. They’ll open with a friendly, perhaps humorous, story or quote before touching on a personal account of how they, as life’s uninitiated, imagined their future would be. Then they’ll close with some kind of advice about following your dream.
For a million dollars, I couldn’t tell you who delivered the commencement speech at my high school graduation, what his educational credentials were or the subject of his speech. I do, however, vividly remember the urgency in his delivery of this advice: “If you remember nothing else I say to you tonight, remember this.”
That’s it. I was so mesmerized by the all-or-nothingness of his “remember this” message that I don’t remember anything that came before or after that line, which very well could have been the secret to happiness and fulfillment, the shortcut to success or the combination to his safe deposit box. I’ll never know.
Instead, I stumbled blindly into my postgraduate life – unarmed for the tribulations of young adulthood – blazing a trail less traveled, all because I missed the big road sign of life that old what’s-his-name, the keynote speaker, cautioned us to remember.
It’s probably too late for me. The rest of you should save yourselves: Worry less about following your dreams and more about the practical advice you’ll probably never hear at your graduation, but need to hear before you go.
Travel. Doesn’t matter where – just go as far and as often as you can.
Get the longest extended warranty available. You’ll need it, exponentially so, for items that have a lot of features. That means more to break.
Don’t tell people everything you know. Keep a little mystery.
Don’t buy crappy tires or you’ll be buying tires all the time. Get the best tires available (with the best replacement warranty) or you’ll spend more money replacing crappy tires than you would have spent on good ones to begin with. This is a hard and fast rule that applies to everything from boots to lipstick, too: get the good one first and be done with it.
Keep your face out of the sun or you’ll never be able to lie about your age.
Perennials to annuals: Work with a ratio of 3:1.
Take a lot of photos between now and age 27. Your metabolism has a maximum shelf life of 28 years. Enjoy it now. You’ll look like the rest of us soon enough.
Always know someone with 1) a pool; 2) a pickup truck; 3) a prescription pad.
Leggings aren’t pants. Tunics aren’t dresses. Stop trying to defeat this axiom of good judgment, for all of us.
Don’t stress about math. Math is hard for (almost) everyone and most people don’t care if you’re not good at it. On the other hand …
You must learn to spell. You’re killing the souls of readers everywhere, especially when you leave your manifesto on every news story thread you find on the Internet. There’s still time to get a handle on this, so do it.
Make a bonnet for your DirectTV dish. If you insist on going this way, you should either live in an extremely arid climate (where you’ll be glad you’ve started that skincare regime) or you must protect the dish from the rain if you ever want to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon watching old movies.
Learn how to thread and use a sewing machine. You’ll need a good costume one day.
Check your oil or you’ll be sorry. And it will be after midnight, on a weekend, when it’s raining sideways.
Know at least one reliable person you can call to fetch you after midnight, on a weekend, when it’s raining sideways and you’ve burned up the engine of your oil-starved car.
Be kind in all instances. At the very least, strive to be kind in all instances. Nothing will enrich your life more. If you remember nothing else, remember that.