Yay, my sister just graduated from business school last week! Welcome back to being a valued, GDP-producing member of society. Or rather, welcome back to the world of finance. (Banker joke!)
As promised, I am circling back and sharing a few more things I’ve learned from the so-called real world.
I *love* hearing other people’s lessons, and a few friends have shared great ones with me after my last post (especially poignant after Bay 2 Breakers this weekend: “Drink half as much, still get twice the hangover.” Word.) Please share more post-grad lessons in the comments! I need all the advice I can possibly get.
Without further ado…
- Not everyone likes you
My first manager in consulting legit did not like me. At all. This was a real kick in the pants because for 22 years, I had been told how smart and hard-working and lovable I was. So naturally, I decided that by any means necessary, I absolutely had to get him to like me (and that should be easy, right?!) So I turned into some brown nosing, Oliver Twist/Consultant hybrid: “please sir, I know it’s Saturday, but can I have more slides to format?” All this for someone who called me “her” to my face and was visibly displeased every time I stopped working to go to the bathroom. UGH my palms are sweating just thinking about it.
Finally, painfully, I came to the conclusion that he was…just a prick. And no matter what I do, or who I won over, he was going to continue behaving as such. As it turns out, rank is by no means correlated with moral superiority, and not every person in a position of power deserves respect. Shock.
I never told him off as I fantasized, but even the decision to stop acting like an abused puppy was a relief beyond description. And ultimately, my working hard and keeping my head down won over way more important people. Oh, and those scowls every time I went to the bathroom? Imagine the look on his face when I started drinking about 3 liters of water a day. I may have strained my internal organs, but it was 100% worth it.
- You should do stuff you’re bad at
From a tender age, I’ve been utterly worthless at team sports. And since I ardently believed in unicorns as a child, horseback riding was a natural fit. Like so many aspiring high achievers, I exploited the hell out of my hobby to get into high school, then college, and then spent college competing and defining myself by that.
Being objectively good at stuff is important when you’re a student – what else do you put on your resume?! But once I got kicked out into the real world, I realized that really is no objective “good” in extracurriculars anymore. Unless you join an adult dodge ball league or something, which…sounds terrible.
I miss competing a lot; it was a huge part of who I am. But it’s been really humbling and rewarding to pick up new things from scratch and get better at them… just because. In a little over a year of yoga, I’ve gone from not touching my toes to head stands and arm balances. Objectively, these things aren’t actually impressive, but the satisfaction I get from improving for the sake of improving is huge. And more than that, the hobby is 100% separate from the rest of my life, which means I feel no greater guilt when I forego said hobby for weeks at a time because I’ve decided to spend my time elsewhere: say, watching the Lakers totally fuck up the playoffs. (Excuse me, I’m embittered).
- People move away from you
I was under the assumption that once I set up a group of friends in a city, those people were contractually obligated to live near me ‘til death do us part, or until I became a shut-in, whichever came first. As it turns out, people are allowed to make life decisions that are not dictated by my personal preference. This has become a recent discovery for me, as a few of my nearest and dearest have gotten the two-year itch and decided to do lame things like move to London or go to a top business school across the country. Whatever.
Even though people move, the other thing I’ve learned is that good people have a way of staying in your life regardless of location (case in point: that comment was recently said to me by a good friend I made at a summer program when I was 17). Now that we’re all working prototypes of real people, the connections we keep are actually based on much more than just proximity. And I’m shocked every time I get together with an old friend who lives far away and realize how easy it is to pick up again. My list of people may get smaller, but the quality unquestionably improves. If nothing else, it’s nice to have a bigger list of metropolitan areas that I have a reason to visit.