9 Lessons I Wish I’d Learned After Graduation…
Congrats, Frank. You’re a college graduate. Who am I? Well, I’m you…seven years later. Don’t get caught up in particulars. Just listen.
First of all, you deserve a bro hug. Bring it in close. Let’s go. Don’t hold it too long though. It’s a bro hug. Don’t you know what that is?
You worked hard. You endured the highs and lows of graded curves and all-nighters. Colleges don’t hand out degrees. You earned it. Well done!
But I’m not here simply to pat you on the back. I’m here to get you ready.
Your next season, the one most call “real life,” is waiting. And with it comes a new set of challenges and obstacles as well as a new set of joys and excitements.
People say hindsight is 20/20. That’s why I’m here. I want to share some things with you. You’re going to make some mistakes. I wouldn’t dare keep you from those. Mistakes are the best teachers. I’m here to awaken you. I’m here to reveal some inconsistencies in your life. I want the best for you, Frank. I’m you, after all.
Here are nine important truths I wish I knew when I graduated.
1.) Life doesn’t owe you anything.
Your friends operate with a sense of entitlement. But I can tell you from experience, entitlement robs your joy and peace.
Your parents don’t owe you. Life doesn’t owe you. Yeah, we build industries on this premise (the credit card industry, for example), but they’re selling you lies.
The more you can grasp this, the less animosity and frustration you will have toward others and the more joy you will experience moving forward.
2.) Your friends will shape the trajectory of your life.
You’re entering a new season. You will make new friends. Choose them wisely. Don’t settle. Your friends will determine your future. Nothing shapes the trajectory of your life like your friends.
I would beg you, but I’ve found it doesn’t work. You must decide what’s important. I can’t force it on you. You must understand who you are and where you’re going. Then you must choose friends accordingly.
The quality of your friends shapes the trajectory of your life. Choose ones that make you better, challenge you and raise your standards.
3.) A selfish life creates a bitter and resentful heart.
Frank, you live in a “me-centered” world. But there’s a better way. Getting yours, looking out for number one, etc. are sensible values. This way might fill your bank account and garage, but it won’t fill the void in your heart. You know the one.
Serve other people, Frank. Give yourself to the world. It’s crazy what you’ll receive in return.
Don’t use people. Love them. I know some people suck, but you can’t change them. Maybe you should lower your expectations. Your worldview is small, Frank. Not everyone thinks like you. Not everyone sees the world like you. Cut people some slack. You can’t nurture peace and anger at the same time.
Culture says true life is found in something external. This is a lie. Don’t buy it. Over time, you will realize true life comes from within, from God. It is the product of allowing God to be your heart’s desire. It comes not from expecting others to give their time and talents to you, but from you giving your time and talents to others.
Maybe you could try some of that now. The current version of yourself would greatly appreciate it!
4.) If you wear a costume to hide who you are, you will feel empty.
Frank, you must learn to be the man God created you to be. You’re unique. Don’t allow cultural pressures and reputation to detract from your identity. Be a man of integrity. Stand for what’s right, even if it’s unpopular. Right now, you struggle with this. You would rather be liked. You’re tempted to change who you are to fit in.
When you wear a costume, the person others love and accept isn’t you. It’s the costume. As long as you “play the part,” emptiness will plague you. The love, acceptance and affirmation others give you never make it to your heart. They’re absorbed by the costume.
5.) Your current decisions will affect your future life.
Frank, your decisions matter. Perspective is a missing virtue in your life. It clouds the reality that your future self and current decisions are intertwined.
I need to tell you that some of the bad decisions you are making now continue to rear their ugly heads 10 years later.
Consider the trajectory of your life. Who are you becoming? What do you want from life? What is your purpose? Think about these things now. Don’t live for the moment. Every decision leads you somewhere.
6.) When you’re controlled by insecurity, you’re a slave to the opinions of others.
You have flaws, Frank. I’m not denying that. You’re vertically challenged. You won’t be confused with a GQ model. You’re average intellectually.
But your flaws aren’t unique. Everyone has flaws. I want to challenge you to change your perspective. Look at the world through a different lens, one that reveals what you have, not what you lack. When you choose to see what you lack, you’re blinded to God’s gifts, and, Frank, you’re a blessed man.
As long as you are controlled by insecurity, you are a slave to the opinions of others. And you will stop at nothing to please others. Don’t be that person.
Rest in the man God created you to be. Until you do, comparison will drive you down dark roads. And the unique purpose God has for your life will go to waste.
7.) Never stop learning.
Frank, right now, you’re idealistic. You’re confident. You’re educated. But tomorrow, you enter a different school, the school of life. This school has much to teach you. The ones who succeed, regardless of how success is defined, never stop learning.
Learning is reserved for the humble. Don’t throw out opinions different from yours. It’s dangerous.
Listen to people older than you. Accept rebuke from people. You’re far from perfect. Surround yourself with people that are smarter and wiser than you…and learn from them.
8.) Don’t worry about what you can’t control.
From career to family, worry is a close companion of yours. Cut ties with it now. Invite it over for a cup of coffee or something, but you desperately need to let worry go. It might keep you company, but it’s not a good friend. Worry cripples progress and growth. Unknown is hard. I understand. But believe me, God takes care of everything. He’s the Known in a world of unknowns, which is why Jesus says, “Do not worry.”
As long as your life is filled with worry, you can’t enjoy it. Relax.
9.) Give everything to God!
Frank, you need to trust me here. Following Jesus isn’t about rules. Part of this is the fault of your Christian culture. I apologize on their behalf.
The other side of the coin is you believe there is only one definition of fun.
God’s not trying to steal your fun. He’s trying to redeem it. You see, Frank, your current definition of fun doesn’t lead to life. Someone usually gets hurt, and often, that person is you.
NOTHING is more important than God. Love him with everything. He can be trusted. He is the only path to true life. The life most of your peers desire isn’t hard to attain. Just climb the ladder, make a few bucks and fill your house with trinkets. But, I’ll tell you from experience. That life doesn’t satisfy. Trinkets won’t fill the void. They will keep you awake at night. You’ll wonder why you’re not filled even though you’ve attained the American Dream. There is, in fact, more to life.
His name is Jesus.
You can’t experience peace and joy when you give God half of your life. This is the problem with much of your culture. Most Christians give God just enough of their heart to make them miserable. Jesus says, “Seek FIRST the kingdom…”
Do this, Frank. And everything else will come.
Congrats on graduation, Frank. Seriously, bro, I’m stoked for you. But in a very real sense, you’re not graduating. Stay hungry. Stay humble. Work with excellence. Trust God to fill the unknown.
Cast a vision for your life that’s larger than you. Live with intentionality. Be present. Make Jesus famous, whether you’re playing ball or working 8-5. All of life is sacred. Use all of it to worship God.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!