Bad Graduation Advice
With graduation season comes lots of rambling speeches and lots of advice. Most of the advice that I’ve heard (from snippets on television and videos) is pretty bad. “Reach for the stars” is bad advice. “Find a job that you love” is bad advice. The problem with this advice is that it’s coming from people who probably shouldn’t give advice to college or high school graduates.
Colleges should make a guy like me their graduation speaker (except I’m not a good public speaker. They should get a guy LIKE me who is NOT me). I’m not a celebrity or any kind of famous person. I’m just a moderately successful guy that nobody has heard of. I’ve held the same kind of job for 25 years. I’ve (somehow) stayed employed through several recessions. I’m married with kids.
From a graduate’s point of view, I’m a boring guy with a boring life. But I’m also the person that most graduates will become (or should hope to become).
Most college graduates will not become famous or super wealthy. They will become like me. And they should go out into the world with aspirations to become like me (that sounds really arrogant, but I hope this makes sense).
So if I were to give a graduation speech (and I won’t, but if I did), it would be a short speech with lots of (hopefully) amusing anecdotes and one piece of (maybe really bad) advice:
- Be content with having a job that sucks.
This can be taken the wrong way, so I’ll try to explain my bad advice.
Too many famous people (whose names I won’t mention because they’re already rich and famous and get mentioned too often anyway) advise students/listeners/viewers that we should strive to find a job that we love.
I disagree. Trying to find a job that we love (or “reaching for the stars”) leads to disappointment, disillusionment, and bitterness (I couldn’t think of another “dis” word).
Instead, find a job that pays you enough to do the stuff that you love… in your spare time.
I love reading, writing, and watching football (and spending time with my family, of course), but few jobs will pay me to do all three. The “reading” jobs would require me to read a bunch of boring stuff that would make me hate reading. The “writing” jobs would require me to write a bunch of boring stuff that would make me hate writing. The “spending time with family jobs” would… I’d better stop right there.
Everything I love to do requires somebody else to do a job that sucks. If I go to a restaurant, a bunch of people have to do jobs that suck in order for me to enjoy myself. If I take my family to the mall, a bunch of people have to do jobs that suck in order for us to enjoy ourselves.
In fact, most jobs suck (even the ones that require a college education), but most jobs are important.
This notion that we must find a job that we love is self-destructive. Somebody has to do the jobs that suck. If everybody did only the jobs they loved, then nobody would do the jobs that sucked, and there’d be a lot of trash outside because waste management jobs suck.
So that’s my bad advice to graduates: find a good job that sucks, and then do the stuff you love in your spare time.
I don’t remember many of the speeches from my graduation ceremonies. The graduation speakers weren’t famous, they had monotone voices, and my mind was on other things. The only thing I remember is that our high school valedictorian started off his speech with a bad (almost offensive) joke that nobody laughed at, and his face turned red, and it threw him off for his entire speech. I had never seen him flustered before. Our valedictorian was a likable guy, and I felt bad for him.
I’m sure somebody suggested to my school’s valedictorian that he start his speech with a joke. That was bad advice.
What other bad advice can we give to today’s graduates?