9 Things I Wish I Knew When I Graduated

Congrats, Frank. You’re a college graduate. Who am I? Well, I’m you…seven years later. Don’t get caught up in particulars. Just listen.

First of all, you deserve a bro hug. Bring it in close. Let’s go. Don’t hold it too long though. It’s a bro hug. Don’t you know what that is?


You worked hard. You endured the highs and lows of graded curves and all-nighters. Colleges don’t hand out degrees. You earned it. Well done!

But I’m not here simply to pat you on the back. I’m here to get you ready.

Your next season, the one most call “real life,” is waiting. And with it comes a new set of challenges and obstacles as well as a new set of joys and excitements.

People say hindsight is 20/20. That’s why I’m here. I want to share some things with you. You’re going to make some mistakes. I wouldn’t dare keep you from those. Mistakes are the best teachers. I’m here to awaken you. I’m here to reveal some inconsistencies in your life. I want the best for you, Frank. I’m you, after all.

Here are 9 important truths I wish I knew when I graduated.

1. Life doesn’t owe you anything.

Your friends operate with a sense of entitlement. But I can tell you from experience, entitlement robs your joy and peace.

Your parents don’t owe you. Life doesn’t owe you. Yeah, we build industries on this premise, (the credit card industry, for example) but they’re selling you lies.

The more you can grasp this, the less animosity and frustration you will have toward others and the more joy you will experience moving forward.

2. Your friends will shape the trajectory of your life.

You’re entering a new season. You will make new friends. Choose them wisely. Don’t settle. Your friends will determine your future. Nothing shapes the trajectory of your life like your friends.

I would beg you, but I’ve found it doesn’t work. You must decide what’s important. I can’t force it on you. You must understand who you are and where you’re going. Then you must choose friends accordingly.

The quality of your friends shapes the trajectory of your life. Choose ones that make you better, challenge you, and raise your standards.

3. A selfish life creates a bitter and resentful heart.

Frank, you live in a “me-centered” world. But there’s a better way. Getting yours, looking out for number one, etc. are sensible values. This way might fill your bank account and garage, but it won’t fill the void in your heart. You know the one.

Serve other people, Frank. Give yourself to the world. It’s crazy what you’ll receive in return.

Don’t use people. Love them. I know some people suck, but you can’t change them. Maybe you should lower your expectations. Your worldview is small, Frank. Not everyone thinks like you. Not everyone sees the world like you. Cut people some slack. You can’t nurture peace and anger at the same time.

Culture says true life is found in something external. This is a lie. Don’t buy it. Over time, you will realize true life comes from within, from God. It is the product of allowing God to be your heart’s desire. It comes not from expecting others to give their time and talents to you, but from you giving your time and talents to others.

Maybe you could try some of that now. The current version of yourself would greatly appreciate it!

4. If you wear a costume to hide who you are, you will feel empty.

Frank, you must learn to be the man God created you to be. You’re unique. Don’t allow cultural pressures and reputation to detract from your identity of your life is a facade. Be a man of integrity. Stands for what’s right, even if it’s unpopular. Right now, you struggle with this. You would rather be liked. You’re tempted to change who you are to fit in.

When you wear a costume, the person others love and accept isn’t you. It’s the costume. As long as you “play the part,” emptiness will plague you. The love, acceptance, and affirmation others give you never make it to your heart. They’re absorbed by the costume.

5. Your current decisions will affect your future life.

Frank, your decisions matter. Perspective is a missing virtue in your life. It clouds the reality that your future self and current decisions are intertwined.

I need to tell you that some of the bad decisions you are making now continue to rear their ugly heads ten years later.

Consider the trajectory of your life. Who are you becoming? What do you want from life? What is your purpose? Think about these things now. Don’t live for the moment. Every decision leads you somewhere.

6. When you’re controlled by insecurity, you’re a slave to the opinions of others.

You have flaws, Frank. I’m not denying that. You’re vertically challenged. You won’t be confused with a GQ model. You’re average intellectually.

When you focus on what you lack, you’re blinded to the gifts you have.

But your flaws aren’t unique. Everyone have flaws. I want to challenge you to change your perspective. Look at the world through a different lens, one that reveals what you have, not what you lack. When you choose to see what you lack, you’re blinded to God’s gifts, and, Frank, you’re a blessed man.

Frank Powell
Frank Powell
Devoted follower of Christ, college/young adult minister, husband to , dad to Noah and Micah, avid blogger/writer, sports fan. You can follow him on twitter here and read more blogs here!

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