Friday marks a huge milestone for my little climbing family – many of them are finally graduating from Florida State University. Having graduated nearly two years ago, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day for months – and as the topic of graduating into the “real” world has been floating around for the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time mulling on this idea of shifting from “college” life to “real” life.
There’s this horrible stigma that many of my collegiate peers fall for: this idea that after you graduate, you’re supposed to start settling (down, but mostly just settling). It’s touted as that time where you finally get a real house with non-beer-stained furniture, work 9-5 at an “entry level” salary, and focus entirely on things like weddings, babies, and car payments.
That’s all gravy, and are admittedly things I look forward to in the future – but where’s the rush? Where’s the balance? What about all those other things that are supposed to make life worth living?
So, graduates, here’s my send-off advice for you: Make sure you’re REALLY living now that you’re being freed into the “real” world. Make sure you head down a path of realness, not a path of pre-packaged so-called satisfaction that includes a handful of stock options.
You are young. You are free. You have time, and most importantly, you’re still in the phase of your life where eating cheap tacos is acceptable. So use this period of your life to do as much youthful, spontaneous, outrageous living as you can before you finally settle down and have a garage filled with holiday ornaments (yeah, I plan on having a massive collection of seasonal décor one day, so what?).
The number one thing I hear from my older colleagues and peers while talking about my big 2013 trip is this:
“I wish I had taken the time to do this when I was your age, it would be impossible for me to drop everything and travel for a year now.”
SO DO IT NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
This is the prime time of your life to live out of a van for a year, to hop on a plane to New Zealand for a few months, and to use bleak employment outlooks as a worthy excuse to stop shacking up at your parents house and start adventuring until your savings run out. Now is the only time when it will truly remain acceptable for you to spend a month eating nothing but canned beans and peanut butter. Trust me, when you are older, these things will no longer sound quite as appealing.
And you know, for some people, a yearlong adventure just isn’t on the agenda – but just because you got offered a sweet job in your hometown right after graduation doesn’t mean you have to settle in every other aspect of your life. Just because you are starting a career doesn’t mean you have to become a corporate cog. Don’t lose your ambition, don’t lose those twinges of reckless abandon, and don’t spend your weekends cooped up in dimly lit bars with other bros freshly escaped from the office – spend weekend outside doing what you love! And for heaven’s sake, stop blowing your fancy-pants paychecks on new watches – c’mon, you have three nice watches – spend that money on EXPERIENCES.
Get outside. Spend the weekend in a tent.
Experience everything around you.
Cook food from a local farmers market.
Keep climbing. Keep adventuring.
I’ll leave you with this: yesterday, I spent my entire day climbing, sleeping in a hammock between two trees, tending to my carrots, and writing. If you ask me, I’m livin’ the dream. Make sure you’re on the path to living your dream.
You know that whole “real” world they keep telling you about in college? Yeah, they don’t spend too much time hanging in hammocks or cultivating carrots there – so make sure you’re entering the REAL world after you stride out of that commencement ceremony this weekend.