Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been. When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day. What follows is one piece of that advice. I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.
Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself.
Congratulations on your graduation. They call it a commencement ceremony for a reason: you’re heading out on your own into the future. Life’s great adventure is before you. If you embrace it, you can have a fuller, more meaningful life than you can possibly imagine.
Don’t get me wrong. It won’t be easy—nothing worthwhile ever is. And it won’t be at all like the life you’re used to. Life in the adult world is radically different from school life. For example, if you just graduated from high school, you’re used to a life regulated by the school year and the school day. The school day is spent in a school building with others of about your same age. You change classes every hour or so. School ends sometime around 3:00 in the afternoon. The day closes with extracurricular activities and/or homework, and maybe a part-time job. College is different, of course, with its own routines and schedules.
Your authority figures are your parents, teachers and professors. Your parents provide money for the basics of life, as well as some luxuries. Adults are authority figures simply because they are adults.
But that life is over. As comfortable as it may have been, it was a child’s life. You’re an adult now. The life of an adult is better than that of a child—if you make it so. On the other hand, the responsibilities are much greater, and the price of messing up is much, much higher.
For one thing, instead of your parents providing for you, you’ll have to provide for yourself. In our society, you’re expected to pull your own weight. If you don’t, you end up completely depending on others. So I expect you’ll do what is necessary to make your own way.
The daily routine of an adult is generally determined by your job. There’s no telling what your typical day will be like, but it is highly likely that your workday will be longer than a typical school day. And those frequent vacations and days off you’re used to? In your first year on a job, you’ll be lucky to get a week’s vacation and a few holidays. Other than that, they’ll expect to see you at work every weekday.
All of this is not to scare or depress you. Remember, an adult’s life can be wonderful. But the change is sudden. Just try not to be too shocked when it hits you all at once.