Random Ephemera

Real-World Advice for the Class of 2012: Tough Love

As the class of 2012 embarks upon its next journey in life, no doubt words of wisdom are flying around their heads like flies on the outdoor patio of a Houston bar. "Keep your nose to the grindstone." "You are what you eat." "Plastics."

As we are wiser and elder, we feel like we know a thing or two about a thing or two. What we are forgetting when we give the younger generation our worldly knowledge is that 1) it's complete bullshit and 2) they aren't going to listen to it anyway. We, too, received sage advice when we graduated school, be it high school or college, and how much of it can you honestly say turned out to be true? Pretty much none. Had anyone had the nerve to give you some real wisdom, your life might be very different from what it is now. You might have a career that requires you to do real work and not spend your day reading blogs on the Internet (we are glad you don't have that job).

When it comes to learning the ropes, the class of 2012 needs a swift kick in the ass and there is no time like the present. This isn't Fun Fair Positive Soccer anymore, it's the real world and in the real world, Oh, the Places You'll Go is not a life manual. It's a children's rhyming book. In an effort to not let the class of 2012 be fooled by the same optimistic crap as their predecessors, here are some common words of encouragement debunked. Some of this may seem cruel, but tough love is the new everybody's special.

Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow Think about this for a minute. What is it that you like to do? Watch Teen Mom, eat kolaches and hang out on your friends' couch doing those two things? Can you imagine anyone paying you to do that? Of course not. To put this in terms that your generation may understand, this concept is a total Fail. You have two options with this one: Do what you love or make the money.

Naturally there are rare souls who find a way to achieve personal fulfillment while making bank, but you are not Keanu Reeves. Even Keanu Reeves is unfulfilled. Have you ever heard his band?

If I had to advise on one or the other, I would say go for the money. Of course they will tell you that money cannot buy love, but this would be another common misconception. Are you trying to tell me you don't love your iPhone 4?

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You The Golden Rule has been a truism since ancient Babylon. It's a lovely utopian-style theory that is nice in the kindergarten classroom but has very little bearing on how to succeed in life.

Let's look at an example of how the Golden Rule can royally screw you over: You are competing with a colleague over a higher position in your company. You really want the job, and you deserve it. Your boss asks you to weigh in on your opponent's abilities to handle the position. Are you going to say that you think they'd be wonderful? You don't want to bad-mouth them because that's tacky, but you'll find a way to put them down in favor of yourself.

Is that the way you would want to be treated by your coworker? No way! Knocking a fellow employee to your boss is a messed-up thing to do, but it will afford you the opportunity for a swanky new title with your company. Had you followed that Golden Rule business, you would be reporting to your coworker and not the other way around.

Never Give Up on Your Dreams Hold up here a minute. What are your dreams? If you are a 22-year-old college graduate who's walking out with a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts and you have always dreamed about becoming an Olympic jouster, you are going to want to rethink that one.

If you think two and two equals six and you have delusions of becoming the next astronaut to shuttle the Dragon, smash those dreams with a hammer because they ain't happening. Now, if you just completed your degree from an accredited nursing school and you want to go into the health profession, you will accomplish your dreams. Good for you.

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again This mantra falls under the same category as never giving up your dreams. There is a reason that you keep failing and it has nothing to do with your level of dedication. You aren't successful because you are really bad at whatever it is you are doing. The advice would be more beneficial as, "If at First You Don't Succeed, Maybe You Should Go into Another Line of Work."

Work Like You Don't Need the Money, Love Like You've Never Been Hurt and Dance Like No One Is Watching This is one of those choice quotes that are often found in graduation cards in lieu of money. This is a very nice sentiment but it is, sadly, all wrong. People that work like they don't need the money are called slackers, and they often find that their laissez-faire attitude towards their occupation quickly places them on the unemployment line.

"Love like you've never been hurt?" Obviously whoever wrote this phrase had never been hurt. Easy for you to say, pal.

Finally, "dancing like no one is watching" is the worst advice you can give any young adult living in our current times. Someone is always watching, and they have a cell phone with a video camera and now you are on Facebook for the entire world to see how you dance like Elaine from Seinfeld.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade Yes, you could try your hand at making some lemonade, or you could see if Kroger will take the lemons back or at the very least exchange them for something better like a Mike's Hard Lemonade.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig