Congratulations, grads! You did it, so take a bow.
Again this year—I know it’s hard to believe—I didn’t get a single invite to address the class of 2019. But I’m not bitter. Today I’ll share, for free and without the sweltering heat, some advice for graduates. You’re welcome.
• Don’t play poker with a drunk woman sporting a gold tooth. It will end badly.
• Be prepared to work hard. The world is not full of nice people just waiting to throw money at you.
• If it seems too good to be true, it is. Period.
• Smoothies sound healthy, but some have all the nutrition of cotton candy. Choose wisely.
• Listen to your gut. We’re all born with intuition, so use it. If your inner voice whispers, “This is not in your best interests,” or, “This guy is a creep,” walk away.
• Not everyone needs to go to college, but everyone needs an education. Never stop learning.
• If anyone—I don’t care if it’s your brother or your best friend—wants you to invest in a “can’t-lose opportunity” that will double your money in six weeks, RUN. Unless his name is Elon or Bezos, you’re going to lose your shirt.
• Working a job you hate and getting wasted every weekend is not your best life. Figure out how to do better.
• Try to make everyone you meet glad they met you.
• Do good, and nine times out of 10, good will come back to you. It’s called karma.
• The corollary to that is, life isn’t fair. You’re going to get disappointed. Your heart will be broken. A friend will let you down. Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. That’s called “experience.”
• Being cheerful is a choice. Be cheerful. (Unless you’re nervous like me; then just fake it.)
• You do not magically become wise and experienced when you turn 18 or walk onto a college campus. Listen to your elders. They’ve been where you are and they know things you don’t know. All the things, in fact.
• Stay loyal to your old friends, but also make room for new friends--preferably from different places and backgrounds. They will be your portal to new experiences, which leads to a more interesting life.
• Give holistic medicine a try. If Siberian ginseng doesn’t cure a hangover, then you can gulp Advil. Just don’t do hair of the dog, which is stupid: Dogs eat their own upchuck, remember?
I also asked my brother, T-Bob, for his pearls of wisdom:
• Travel as much as you can while you’re young.
• Don’t move to a legal weed state. It’s very hard to get anything done.
• Volunteer your time to help others; the emotional rewards are huge.
• A good credit score is like gold—it can even reduce your car insurance payments.
And now, a few words from the smartest man I know, Widdle Baby:
• Don’t expect a paycheck on Friday if you haven’t worked Monday through Thursday.
• Learn how to cook. Fast food is not your friend.
• Help old people. They’ve paid their dues.
• Playing the lottery is fun, but don’t make it your retirement plan.
• Buy the expensive toilet paper. You’re worth a roll of Charmin.
• Go to church rain or shine, unless you have the flu.
• Stow your phone while you’re on the clock. The boss isn’t paying for your social media addiction.
• Learn how to fix things. (Readers, I must brag: Widdle can tear down an engine; seal a leak; replace water pipes; repair a drone; operate a bulldozer, tractor and chainsaw; assemble Ikea furniture; AND cook like a TV chef. Be like Widdle.)
Julie R. Smith, who doesn’t remember her commencement speaker, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.