Well, it’s finally here—that time when I slip away from snow day keggers and case races into the mysterious and dreaded “real world.” You may see me on Wall Street in a slew of suit coats and think, “Didn’t I draw on that guy’s face at a party?”
Or maybe you won’t recognize me at all. I’ll be a different man in a different world, they tell me. The party’s over, they tell me. Time to wake up and smell the coffee, they tell me.
The washed up, middle aged, former frat boy has become an annoying staple in my life. He corners me at social gatherings and talks too close to my face.
“Timmy,” he says, “Drink all the beer you can now, Timmy. ‘Cause soon you won’t have the chance.”
“Okay,” I nod in understanding, because any dissent might make this fool manic.
“Timmy,” he says, “Get all the girls you can now, Timmy. ‘Cause soon you won’t have the chance.”
Now I don’t acknowledge him, hoping he’ll fade back into the party.
Before he leaves, he lays down the ever popular “these are the best four years of your life.”
But so was high school, according to every sweater-vested guest speaker. And those four years were great, but these four years have been better. In retrospect, every four years of my life have been better than the previous four. But according to the washed up frat boy—with bad breath and a tendency to repeat the same story six or seven times in a night—that all ends here.
According to his ancient wisdom, I’ve studied my whole life to slip into oblivion and never truly experience freedom again. He tells me my entire existence is climaxing in a dirty college house in Davenport, Iowa.
Something seems a bit skewed about that logic. He’s right: these have been the best four years of my life so far. I may never again have the chance to do Sunday keg stands and not have a care in the world except “What’s your number?” I will never again be a college kid.
Instead, I’ll have a chance to travel the world. To support myself by doing something I have always loved. To actually make a difference. To call myself a journalist. To be filthy rich. To be stupid happy. To fall in love. To say “Once, when I was in college…” all while creating better stories, later to be recalled as “once, in my twenties…”
So maybe, if I thought he could handle it, I’d tell it like it is to the old frat boy.
“I know you mean well,” I might say. “But something tells me it’s not all about Domino’s and Busch Light. And something tells me I’m about to learn more than Wellness Concepts ever taught me. And something tells me you’ve stifled yourself. You’ve fooled yourself into thinking the good times don’t last. You traded the nectar of life for a necktie. This is not the mountain top; but another step on the mountain. This is not a dead end; but a fork in the road.”
And then he would sulk, realizing that he had taken the wrong road. But there’s a simple, foolproof method to taking the right road: follow your north star. Your heart will never lead you astray.
Always go with your gut. Your gut wants you to be happy, one way or another. Your gut sees only your wildest dreams, and shuns all obstacles in an effort to realize those dreams.
Your gut will lead you across the country, staring up at the stars over Yellowstone, miles and miles from anything resembling a cubicle. You and your gut may find yourselves laughing obnoxiously in the night with strangers over strange drinks in strange bars in strange cities. Your gut won’t let you down.