Dear Class of 2017:
It’s graduation season and I am seeing so many lovely examples of #blackexcellence on my social media timelines. I’m excited for this next generation of scholars to make an impact on this world and I feel like I’m even more connected to this group of students because I work at an university. I know that there were many long nights of stress, partying, and Crown Royal (my drink of choice in undergrad) combined with societal ills that seemed like obstacles that you’ve all had to overcome en route to that graduation stage. The last 4-5 years have been filled with assaults on black bodies, campus protests, and mediocre YT people taking up leadership spaces in this country which all serve as excellent case studies into this country that many of us have the privilege to call “home” (using this term loosely). Once you cross that stage, you might be wondering: “what’s next?” You’ve done what some consider impossible to achieve by graduating an institution of higher education with odds stacked against you, yet you did it. Here are just a few tips for your next chapter of your life:
*Cherish the moment- We’re in a time where the attention span for humans are shorter than the attention span of a goldfish which means we never get to sit in the moment. In an age where we’re quick get on social media and see what everyone is doing, take this glorious moment and sit in it. Reflect on the last 4+ years (not everyone finishes in four which is perfectly fine). Take an inventory of all of the best and the not-so-great moments of your collegiate experience. Turn the hell up and have a drink for me!
*Another One- I recall when I graduated from Thee Florida State University, I kept hearing “college is the best years of your life” and I kept wondering why people said this like it was a fact. Graduation is the closing of one chapter of your life and the start of another one. The overall life expectancy for Black people is 75.6 years old and if these 4+ years in college is the BEST time of your life, what have you been doing? Honor your experience, but don’t live in the past. You don’t want to be that 40 year old person hanging out in the student union!
*Stay in your lane- With the advent of social media, it’s easy to compare what you’re doing in your post grad life to what Brittany is doing on her party yacht in Ibiza! I say, don’t get caught up as we all know Brittany can definitely be faking out here with a Groupon ticket. You have a plan in mind and I say plan your work and work your plan. You’ll take some bumps along the way, but do what you feel is for you, not because other folks are doing it.
*The Universe will conspire to give you everything that you NEED in your life- You’ll have a plan as to how you want life to work out, but it will always change: sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worst. Let the Universe have its way and do the work needed to achieve your goals. We all have wants, but sometimes, we don’t NEED it at the moment.
*Relationships Matter- You’ve developed some really amazing friendships and adversarial relationships throughout your collegiate career (we all have!). There’s always going to be people that you cannot stand and others that you love to death. Cherish both. Relationships change over the years where some of your closest friends become strangers and people that you’ve never had a pleasant moment with become your best friends.
*Pass it on- This fall (or summer, shout out to the CARE program at FSU), there will be more Black-identified students that are going to navigate the same institutional obstacles that you encountered during your tenure at your alma mater. You have to help these new students learn the “hidden curriculum” of the institution and help them get to that stage that so many others before you had the opportunity to walk across throughout the years. We are a village and that’s exactly what it takes to see more of our melaninated brothers and sisters have their names called in front of hundreds/thousands of other people while walking across the stage.
*#blackexcellence doesn’t stop- Keep going and showing YT people and your haters alike, that you cannot and will not be stopped by any obstacle. Push the boundaries and change the game.
Congratulations to all of the 2017 College Graduates!