16 Pieces of Advice for the Class of 2016

As G-Day gets closer, seniors all over the country are being asked the dreaded question, "What are your plans after graduation?" Family members, friends, and even strangers have the best intentions in asking this; however, if you don't have an answer, it can bring about the longest 30 seconds of your life.

This question can bring about feelings of self-doubt and helplessness, so I've compiled this list of the best (and least cliché) advice I've received for my post-grad endeavors:

1. Don't be intimidated by what you don't know.

Everyone you talk to was, at one point, young and inexperienced. The best way to gain experience is to try new things, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and move forward. Which brings me to my next point:

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2. Falling on your face is still moving forward.

I've been told many times that every decision goes one of three ways: the right decision, the wrong decision, or no decision. And the worst of these three is to not make a decision. In the beginning of your post-grad years, stagnation is lethal.

3. Be concrete in what you want to accomplish, but creative in how you get there.

Albert Einstein said, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result." Don't be afraid to reach your goals using unconventional methods; take a risk. The worst that can happen is the new way also fails.

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4. Take a break. Go somewhere you've never been. Do something you've never done.

Whether that's picking up a new hobby, trying out a new food, or traveling the world, do something. Don't let yourself get bored or lose your wonder at the world around you. Breaking out of a routine can help you get your creativity back, or lead you to new forms of inspiration.

5. Don't take it personally.

Sometimes it's just business. Not every interview is going to end in a job offer; just remember, it may end up being for the best. Remember that everything that happens gives you more experience, and even if is a bad experience, there is something to be learned.

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6. Let go of everything that's weighing you down.

This one's a little cliché, but I've found it to be one of the truest. If it doesn't serve you, cut it out. Successful people don't allow themselves to be surrounded by toxicity.

7. It's easy to be nice to nice people. The trick is to be nice to mean people.

This one speaks for itself. You're not going to like or get along with everyone you meet. The thing that you ought to do is treat everyone with kindness, especially when they don't return the favor.

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8. Fail forward. Fail hard, and fail fast.

Don't fail because you're too afraid to try. If you have to fail at something, go down in a ball of flames; a blaze of ill-advised glory. Go down fighting. And then show everyone how gracefully you can pick yourself back up and try again.

9. Call your parents.

Okay, this one came from my mom. But she's right (somehow, she always is). No one knows you as well as they do. They have great ideas for you, and are always on your side. So when you feel lost, give they a call. Even if it isn't what you want to hear, they have the answer (P.S. thanks for always taking my calls, Mom and Dad).

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10. Don't be perfect. Be brave.

I recently watched a TED talk about not being afraid to fail, and not blaming yourself for things that are outside of your control. In the words of Brené Brown, "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness." So find courage. Apply for that job, or grad school; take a chance. You might surprise yourself.

11. Stop waiting.

Weigh out all the options you have. Then make a choice; make a choice right now. You'll never have all the information there is, so you'll have to throw caution to the wind, cross your fingers, and hope and pray that it'll happen for you.

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12. Money isn't everything.

Take the job that makes you feel good, not the one that will allow you to fill your world with stuff that you don't need. You have a long and prosperous career ahead of you, so start it with the best intentions.

13. Even though you're through with formal education (for now), never stop learning.

From your own mistakes, the mistakes of others, the experience of those around you, it doesn't matter where this learning stems from. Take a class; develop a new skill. The more varied your skill set, the more employable you are. And the more satisfaction you'll get out of your job, because you'll be informed about every part of it.

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14. Get out of your own way.

All those voices in your head that are telling you can't? If you listen to them, they're going to be right. Prove yourself wrong. Stop listening to those voices, and start doing something. The hardest decisions you ever make start with the acceptance of the simple fact that you might fail, but if you never try for fear of this failure, you'll never know what you could've done.

15. You have the same number of hours in your day as (insert role model here).

For me, it's Emma Watson. But there are a million people making a difference in the world, and they all get the same number of hours in their day that you do. This is both a blessing and a curse. You have to set realistic expectations for yourself; however, this also enables you to realize that the sky's the limit, and that you can accomplish anything - just look at what they're doing.

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16. Breathe!

Some days you're going to have read a book, cleaned the kitchen, showered, gotten dressed, and done three loads of laundry by lunchtime. Other days, it's going to be an accomplishment to have put pants on by three in the afternoon. Cut yourself a break. You're doing the best you can; you're surviving.

So to the Class of 2016, congratulations! You've made this far. The rest of your lives are waiting! Do amazing things!

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