The days are long, but the years are short

I’ve been dreading writing this post.

Maybe dreading isn’t the correct word. More like skillfully delaying until the last moment—which is funny because I don’t usually procrastinate anything.

Naively though, it seems like by delaying this, I avoid the inevitable for just a little longer.

Tomorrow, I graduate from college.

The journey is the reward.

Like most milestones, we try to capture and cram all the successes, failures, and everything else into one defining moment. Freshmen orientation, calculus three, summer vacation, the cute girl down the hall junior year, and the late nights talking and laughing with friends.

Everything is combined into a tangled mess, irrespective of what, when, where, or who they happened with.

Doing it this way is easier for everyone else to conceptualize what the achievement actually means. What you went through.

But I was there. I lived through it all.

Emotions don’t like being tangled together.

Somewhat conveniently though, these milestones separate into different time periods. And segmentation affords us a great opportunity to briefly reflect before the journey continues forward.

So without staying up too late before the big day, here are a few things I learned over the last four years in no particular order.

None are from the classroom.

Stay Present

It’s so easy to get caught up in what people think, what happened in the past, or what’s going to happen in the future. Here are the tricks:

Every so often, stop caring about what other people think and live minute by minute, second by second.

Learn & Do Anything

When you leave school, or any other structured environment, learning never stops. It always continues.

It can actually be more exciting when you step outside the formal, rigid confines and teach yourself. As the teacher, you set your own pace and teach yourself what you want.

Opportunities are bounded only by your desire to learn and do. This year, I taught myself iOS development, simply because I wanted to. You can do anything with the requisite effort.

Just remember—anything worth doing, is worth overdoing.

Thank & Be Thankful

While simple in theory, it’s rather difficult in practice: sincerely thank those that mean something to you.

When people do something that benefits you, you should always acknowledge their efforts. Even if what they did doesn’t work exactly as planned. They are spending some of their precious time on you so it’s the right thing to do.

Make sure you convey how much you value them. You may not get another chance. Sometimes a simple “Thanks” will suffice, but I recommend handwritten thank you notes or pulling them aside to tell them.

In the long term, it always pays off to do so.

Finally, take some time to feel thankful for everything and everyone that is a part of your life.

You often know when you do something for the first time, but you don’t often know when you do something for the last time.