Our flight home from my sister’s wedding celebration in the Boston area was canceled this past Sunday. Because Boston is dense with colleges and so many of them happened to have their graduations that same weekend, all of the airlines were fully committed for the rest of the day, and hotels would have been difficult to come by, too. We ended up taking a 7 hour Acela from South Station to Union Station. It wasn’t the worst of things — travel by train is simple and unfussy and I vastly prefer it to air — but it was a long day. Sandwiched between stretches of reading my latest thriller (strongly enjoying) and playing rounds of Jaipur with Mr. Magpie (strongly recommend – a great two-player game of strategy and chance), I consumed a lot of social media and some Kardashians, too. (Why is Travis Barker so fascinating to me?). One video that stood out to me was Adam Sandler’s commencement address to the graduating class of NYU Tisch from just a few days ago. In it, he encourages the graduates to embrace their identities as creatives and also to cling to the relationships built during their formative college years. There is no overarching thesis, but rather, a number of small observations and entreaties, which is, I think the humblest and most stirring kind of advice because isn’t life that way? Splintering in different directions and glinting with small gems of insight? I think this is why the Desiderata remains, to me, the most beautifully formed treatise of advice, and perfect for a commencement.
So, borrowing that format, I’m offering a couple of things I have learned the long and hard way that I would tell my graduating self:
Try new things. Especially in your 20s. Don’t get too caught up in a master plan — your 20s are a perfect time to explore.
Call your parents.
Be gentle with others and, importantly, with yourself.
Strive not to be the most intelligent person in the room.
Don’t be afraid of squiggly paths. Many successful people wander a wide walkabout before pointing themselves in a more permanent direction.
Ask questions more than you posit opinions.
Seek advice from multiple parties, then sit down and look for the overlaps. And sometimes, reject all of the advice and do what feels right.
Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know.
There will be years that ask and years that answer — just know that answers do eventually come.
Invest in the people who fill your cup. Set careful boundaries with those who do not.
Read diversely, and read for fun.
Most of the time, people care far less than you think they do about what you’re doing. I don’t mean this to be cruel, but to afford you the latitude to not be quite as self-conscious.
Days can be measured by degree of presence and productivity. There will be times where you will need to grind. There will also be times where you need to prioritize presence.
All salaries are negotiable. Asking for more is neither greedy nor ungrateful.
Few things, actually, are nonnegotiable — it’s always worth inquiring after something you want.
Ask for feedback.
Set clear parameters around your work relationships. Those are tricky friendships — proceed with caution.
Work on your communication skills — written and spoken.
The next best thing to a “yes” is a quick “no.” Slow maybes will kill you. Work to get to an answer.
Volunteer to take on work that your boss needs done.
If you must participate in a contentious conversation at work, sit on the same side of the table, or even on the same couch, as the other party. This often diffuses the intensity.
Do not burn bridges. No matter how tempting, leave a job on a high note. You will be asked why you are leaving. Never use this as an occasion to air grievances or let someone know how you really feel. You will regret it.
If you feel small or intimidated in a work setting, physically take up more space — shoulders back, papers spread in front of you.
Remember that you are inherently creative. Lean into creativity. Afford yourself space to explore, tinker.
Growth is rarely comfortable — lean into the discomfort.
What would you add?
+Things that mattered to me at 18 (almost none of which matters to me now).
+To my fellow woolgatherers.
+What would you study if you were going back to school tomorrow?
+Serena and Lily is offering an extra 20% off already discounted items, including this chic scalloped raffia side table, everyone’s favorite storage baskets, and this adorable lamp. I think I am going to order this bolster pillow for micro’s room. And I’m tempted by these beach chairs for our summer trip!
+I updated this Memorial Day sale post to include some truly incredible sale finds at Little English.
+Just ordered myself a belt bag for our new Monday morning hiking habit.
+Love these gauze pants from J. Crew’s new arrivals.
+Such a fun pareo! (And only $22!)
+I am hearing good things about Giorgio Armani’s new foundation! Has anyone tried?
+Ordered these fun platform fisherman sandals.
+An attractive laundry basket.
+These children’s sheets are SO cute, under $20, and come in a toddler bed size (as well as twin, queen, etc)!
+These woven sandals are so chic! Similar in style to Hermes Orans but with a woven texture (and a fraction of the price!).
+Drawn to this knit dress. Not even usually my style but I’m into it!
+This bunkbed from Target is so cute and so well-priced!
+Fun summer Gucci statement bag.
+More great outdoor gear for good times here.