How to graduate from college

Coffee and sunscreen and stuff

By Sharon Miki, Assistant Editor

[quote style=”boxed”]Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. – Baz Luhrmann[/quote]

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]adies and gentlemen of the class of 2012, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, coffee would be it. Friends will fade, lovers will leave you, money will slide from your fingers like sand through a sieve, but coffee will always keep you awake. And, from my experience, even if you’re friendless, single, and broke—there is so much living to do and so little time, that you’re not going to want to sleep through it.

It’s April, and it’s coming to the end of another school year. For many of you, this probably means shoving a pile of textbooks into corners of your homes and shutting off your brains for a much-needed reprieve from the seemingly endless barrage of assignments you’ve faced all year. For me, this is true to an extent—but this April also marks the end of my academic career.

I’m no mathematician (arts majors, you know how it is), but through my calculations, I’ve spent 20 years in school. Two bloody decades. I have many fancy, embossed pieces of paper to show for it: a kindergarten completion certificate, a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree, and a diploma in professional writing (well, I will in a few months). With my student debt turning me into more of a cliché than a toddler in a tiara, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to officially graduate from the student life and dedicate myself to money making like an adult would do. Fuck.

Still, through all of this high-quality papyrus collecting, I’ve come to learn a few things, off the curriculum, that seem important to remind everyone of at this time.


Even when life is bad, life is good.

Sure, things are more often than not worse than we’d want them to be. According to most news reports, the world is falling to shit. According to my mother, we should all stock up on gold before the impending apocalypse. Indeed, during my time as a student at Douglas College, I’ve seen enough failure, heartbreak, and death to fill an e-book.

However, what I think is most important to take from this (what I think you have to take from this, if you want to stay sane), is that despite all the bad things that happen to us, really great things manage to occur too.

People that we love die. This is the worst. But new mini-people still come into our lives and throw up on our shoulders and wear onesies and smell like heaven and Christmas (I mean babies, not boyfriends)—this is the best.

If you’ve made it past your first semester, you probably already know that sooner or later your heart will shatter in complicated and surprisingly disappointing ways, like a Faberge egg that you thought was really expensive but turned out to be filled with cheap yet milky chocolate; the fallout won’t be as bad in the way you thought it would be, but it will still be messy and you’ll be tempted to lick the sugar off the floor with the dirt. Don’t. Or do, but remember that now that you’ve done that, something really rad and funny will likely occur in the near future. It just will. It’s science.


Hardly anything really matters.

This is really important to remember, especially if you’ll be back to the books come fall. After approximately three-zillion exams, I’ve come the horrifying realization that it’s all pretty derivative. I mean, sure, you should study and learn and achieve so that you can do what you want to with your life. But after spending a long time catastrophizing every mid-term and them always ending up more or less the same way (done), I’ve learned that time passes and these things will not kill you.

It’s too easy to get caught up with things that are, in the big picture, trivial. If you must worry, worry about spending your precious time with interesting people, milking every last drop of goodness from each situation, and acquiring more coffee.


If you’re reading this, you probably went to college and can forevermore start sentences with “back when I was in college…”

If anything, this is something that no everyone gets to do. So check that experience off on your life list and tally ho on further.

In conclusion, I’ve studied for a long time. I’ve learned some things; I have a lot to learn.

To my fellow graduates: sleep if you must, but every now and then sip an espresso-based drink past bedtime—try to stay up because that’s when you’re most likely to run into a 67-year-old ex-gangster turned hypnotherapist that will climb a mountain with you and watch the sun rise to light the blue-tinged glass windows of the skyscraping offices of people who are bursting with stories of their family and friends and explorations. Or, you know, see a really good movie or something. It’s up to you. I wish you all beauty and adventure and love and loss, because that’s life. And I hope that even when I’m not around to try to tell you how to do it, you live it.

Also, wear sunscreen.