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Howard University

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Congratulations new graduates! You have entered the so-called “real world” now that you’ve walked across that stage. You not only have freedoms and rights, you have a certain amount of responsibilities that you have to deal with. It won’t always be fun or easy, but if you learn some important lessons early, it’ll make your life easier for years to come. Remember that you’re young, strong and resilient, and you can handle what life throws at you.

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1. How to survive financially:

Unless you happen to be one of those people who got their lucrative dream job out of college (or mommy and daddy are financing your life still), chances are, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with things financially. Here’s the smartest thing you can do: Go to a bank, a credit union, a financial planning service, etc. and learn the truth about your financial situation from day one. Whether its learning how you’re going to manage your debts, or you’re tying to save money, or you’re thinking of building wealth now, or all the above, don’t wait until you’re older. If you can learn the practical things of adulthood straight away, you’ll go far. Big pro-tip: From day one, apart from your full-time job, get a side hustle.

2. How to make friends all over again:

If you happen to stay in the same place all your friends are, you’ll probably struggle with this less. Even if this is your situation, it’s still worth it  to go out there and meet people because it’s easy to get “stuck” in friend groups, even friend groups you keep mostly out of convenience. If you move away from friends and family, welcome to the first grade all over again. Here’s the thing: People are busy. And it’s nerve-wrecking to be vulnerable with people as an adult, more so than when you’re a child. It feels a lot like dating – and you might even approach it the same way. Either way, know that as long as you’re open and friendly and being the kind of friend you want to have, good people will come in your life.

3. How to manage your boss and other office politics lessons:

The one thing almost nobody tells you about working in the real world is that not only does your boss manage you, you have to manage him or her as well. How do you do that? By being forthcoming in your communication, anticipating their needs before they do and being seen as someone who does more than just the bare minimum to get by. Even if you’re not working at your dream job, even if you’re at a job you hate, the best thing to do for your career in the long-term is to do good work wherever you are. And treat everyone at your job with kindness, while staying away from the D-R-A-M-A as much as possible.

4. The importance of creating a self that you’re happy with:

Being yourself is hard. People like to give you that piece of advice because it seems like the right thing, but it’s worth coming to terms that maybe your self isn’t only something that you realize, but something that you choose; something that you create. You’re going to feel lonely and like you can’t completely handle your life sometimes during these years. That’s okay. Ask for help when you need it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But pay attention to what and who you want become and the kind of lifestyle you want to have – and focus on getting that.

5. The advice to take and whose advice to leave behind:

When you’re young and impressionable, expect to get it from all angles. That’s why I believe in listening to everyone’s kindly. But taking it with a grain of salt. (And that goes for everyone who is reading this too.) In the end, you’re going to have to learn that you are the only one who gets to live with your decisions. So make sure that you make choices that are best for you.