This is graduation week for most area high schools, or – as it is technically called, “commencement.” The start of a new life.
It’s also a time of uncertainty and anxiety. What will the future bring? Will I find love? What career path should I follow? When will my acne clear up?
Cheer up, lasses and lads. Here’s the straight skinny from a guy who graduated from his high school in the primordial era, before cell phones, Instagram and twerking. The rich people lived in trees and the rest in caves. Without further ado, here’s
What To Expect When You’re Expecting to Graduate
- Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road. The path you’ve been on, one of being protected by (and arguing with) your parents is over. You are – or soon will be – legally an adult. You’re responsible for your own debts. You may have to pay rent to the old folks, especially if you aren’t going to college. You have at least 45 years of work ahead of you. Being a grownup, in many ways, sucks.
- Our Love Will Last Forever. Not. You may be involved now with a Person with a lot of smoochifying, etc. going on. You may think that’s True Love, but chances are it’s a combination of ego (“I am attractive!”), loneliness and two sets of glands calling to each other. Some right out-of-high school marriages last and succeed, but if you are really into long shots, you might as well buy a fistful of Scratchers down at the 7-11. Your odds are probably better there.
- Stick it to The Man, Until … Whether it’s a summer job flipping burgers or a new role marching endlessly on the grinder at Fort Repetition, you will start your employment career at the bottom and take entirely too long to get close to the top. Let’s use the example of that burger you will soon flip. You are the bun at the bottom. Nobody looks at you. Everything gets dumped on top of you. The boss – the top of the bun – is stale and weighs down everything else. Until, of course, you become the top bun and THEN the stuff underneath you is tasteless, lazy and entirely replaceable. See? Now, you’re thinking like management!
- Your Four-Year … no, Five-Year … No, Six-Year Vacation from Life. If you do attend college, here are a few harsh realities to spoil your day. A) Nobody cares that you were a “big” football player in high school, or captain of the dance team. B) Chances are excellent that whatever major you so carefully selected will be jettisoned halfway through the second month of the fall semester. C) Some wild-haired professor is going to convince you to toss aside many of your beliefs like an old coat. You will learn some slogans. You will argue these points with your parents over Thanksgiving dinner but eventually find yourself putting a similar coat on when you get into your 30s.
- Free Advice Has A Heavy Price. Your friends mean well … maybe. As you get involved in increasingly serious relationships, you will get lots of You Oughtas from the people in your circle. Romantic advice is the least reliable data you will ever get. Some of the folks are coming from a selfish position. Maybe they are afraid of losing you, so they undercut your Sweetheart Situation. Some will tell you just what you want to hear for fear of losing you in a different way. Some will just be dumb. Advice in this field is like the guy who tells you the pizza tastes awful and then takes the last slice.
- Pedal to Your Mettle. As you pull your car – this is a metaphor, folks – onto the fast streets of life, realize that you are pretty great. You may never look this good again. You are at or near your peak physically and roads you travel will be exciting and broadening.
Just be careful not to take the detours and potholes of drugs, drink and disco. Don’t stay with people who don’t appreciate and care for you. Don’t forget to be kind to people; you’re gonna need them to be kind to you someday.
The decisions you make determine the life you lead. You’re a sleek brand new race car starting out an amazing adventure. The possibilities are endless.
Just don’t truck it up.
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column is posted on Wednesdays. When he graduated from high school, the Beatles had just broken up and fire had recently been discovered.