It's that time of year again! Another wave of college graduates are tumbling out into the world, like baby sea turtles valiantly pulling themselves to the ocean of adulthood. Sadly, it's a dangerous stretch of beach from here to there — filled with predators like hungry seagulls and credit card debt — but fear not, young scholars! Much like that time you bought a pair of Toms, I'm here to provide a well-meaning but ultimately futile attempt at help.
I've been out in adult society with varying degrees of success for juuuust long enough to feel like I can impart some in-your-face truths about what to expect. I'm not some fancy convocation speaker extolling you to follow your dreams or whatever, and this isn't a rousing speech of encouragement before a pee-wee baseball game — this is REAL LIFE, so strap down your mortarboards. Shit's about to get real.
First things first: No one living on this earth has any idea what they're doing. Ever! If you have a plan for your life right now, be ready for it to change, and then be ready for the flailing panic that will completely overtake your brain when that inevitable change comes. All fortunate children grow up thinking that with age comes not just wisdom, but also the magical powers of foresight. You may think that adulthood brings the ability to adjust for any and all variables, so that every decision made is a sound one.
This is absolutely not true at all. Think of your immediate post-college life as walking over an ice patch: If you slip and look silly, at least you didn't fall. If you fall, at least you didn't break any bones. If you break some bones, at least you're not uninsured. (Get insurance.) If you're uninsured, at least you're not selling weed to surly high school sophomores like your dumb-ass cousin.
When you slip and fall (and you will, somewhere) all you have to do is pretend that was the goal all along. Feigning competence in all things is pretty much all adulthood is. And to those of you without any plans, you can actually worry a little less than your Type-A counterparts! Those nerds are already having nightmares about not having enough money to live on during retirement, right? You are used to winging it, and hopefully won't have to sell weed for very long.
To expand on that faking competence advice, this one goes out to my brothers and sisters who end up landing office jobs: Google it. Don't know exactly how to get Excel to do that thing your bosses need it to do? Just tell 'em you can definitely do it, and then Google how that thing gets done. There are step-by-step walkthroughs of pretty much every kind of function performed by pretty much every kind of software. College wasn't a place for you to learn how to nail the MS Office Suite on the first try (unless you actually took a class on that, and if so, congrats on being a step ahead); it was a place for you to research. Consider this advanced-level "copying off of someone else's paper." The good news is, this time, no one cares! And once you've done it a few times, you'll have pretty much learned it. And isn't lifelong learning, like, the goal of being a human?
But enough about work. What about relationships? The truth is, it's very likely you will not remain friends with many of your current peers. People move. People marry or divorce or become parents and fade from view. People get new friends with interests beyond buying weed from that guy's cousin. People die! It's OK. Don't take it personally. If you can squeeze your way out of undergrad with one or two solid pals, you're doing a great job.
And if you're in a relationship right now, your current significant other is either a perfect dreamboat or an absolute loser. There is no in-between. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is super neat and the person you want to be with for the rest of your life, wait! Oh my God, please wait — you're so terribly, terribly young. Get engaged, sure, if that seems like the thing to do, but maybe don't sign any contracts legally binding you to that person until you've been able to legally drink alcohol for more than a couple of years.
And that's it, really. Fake it at all times, lie when necessary, and drop losers from your life as needed. Those should put you in the clear from now until death. Phase Two of life advice, things like "Keep avoiding STDs, you've made it this far," "Make sure you are adequately compensated for your work," "IKEA is not a long-term solution to your furniture needs," and "Isn't it about time you bought a good set of kitchen knives?" will be imparted to you when you hit 27, which is roughly when you'll start feeling like an actual quasi grown-up.