The World's Worst Graduation Advice

Posted May 27, 2014

Have you ever gotten crappy advice from someone you trusted?

I have. It was all about how I could propel myself into immediate success after graduating from college. A college buddy had it all figured out. His advice was so clear, so confident, and so cool.

After all, I had no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and he was so sure.

It was my sophomore year at Westfield State College. I had been an undeclared major up to now and the pressure was on to declare to the world what my major will be.

And I was freaking out. I mean I was only 20 years old and only pretended to be as mature and ambitious as my fellow students seemed to be. To be honest, I never even imagined a future for myself. I was only concerned with the present moment, playing baseball, and passing my courses so I could continue playing baseball.

The panic of having to make a decision for the rest of my life pulled me out of the present and for the first time I found myself looking straight into unfamiliar territory; my future.

And it wasn't pretty.

In fact it was scary.

It was like looking through a highpowered telescope of the entire universe with a dirty lens. A world of possibility, no focus.

So I did what any intelligent, self directed, future leader of America would do. I consulted with a professional advisor.

Yeah, right. I asked one of my peers. I think it was over a friendly game of beer pong.

"Dude, like, I'm having a brain fart over choosing my major. I got it down to either Physical Education or Art History.”

Those were the only majors I could think of that held any interest to me. I liked sports and I liked cartoons.... man was I clueless.

As my buddy expertly bounced a ping pong ball into my cup he said: “ Dude, there's only one major that means anything. If you're gonna make it in life you have to be a Business Major!” He then pointed his elbow at my chest and yelled: “DRINK!”

I registered for all business classes and became a business major. I'd graduate with a business degree and my whole life would be set. Finally I had a vision and my future was clear.

Why did I feel so agitated? Something felt wrong.

I didn't go back to school that fall. Instead, I traveled across the country to California to find myself. And I did find myself... impoverished. (this line is accredited to the great Don White).

I also found myself jobless and homeless. I had trouble getting traditional jobs in traditional ways. I had no degree and very little experience.

I received the best education I could ever ask for. It wasn't in Phys Ed., Art, or Business. It was from pure engagement of life. I discovered skills I didn't know I had. I survived by learning how to connect to people, trust in my self, and create opportunity.

I was hired at a community center in Rancho Santa Fe as a program director for kids. I wrote and designed flyers, brochures and press releases.

I discovered I could get paid to do something I loved; drawing cartoons.

Don't get me wrong. I always loved drawing cartoons. I just never considered it a career before. Or that I would be any good at it.

The more passionate I became about the possibility of a cartooning career, the cleaner my lens became.

For the first time in my life my vision was clear.

And here's the amazing thing... my panic went away. When you align yourself with your passion it's so much easier to relax into life.

Your passion knows how to get to your big vision better than you can.

Believe me. It is my guiding force.

So when you're looking for advice for your future, ask your passion. He knows the way.

And don't take advice from your peers. Unless it's to validate an obscure rule from an old drinking game, guiding you on your enlightened path is really not their role.

Then again, they just might propel you into your best future.

I want to hear from you. What is the worst career advice you have received? Did you follow it? Was it a disaster?  Did it propel YOU into a game changing discovery about yourself?

Please comment below!


Posted by Danielle on
I LOVE the blog! There is so much panic among graduates this time of year, it's a great reminder to stay focused in our passion.

BTW - Why's the cartoon so tiny & at the bottom of the text? I almost missed it.
Posted by Peter on
Thanks Danielle. Our passion really does know the way.
And yes, I think the cartoon will serve much better displayed under the title. it gets completely lost and ultimately ignored when it sits below the comment section.
Posted by Bob Kanegis on
Well, he didn't speak at my High School graduation, but Walt Whitman said, " slowly, surely, what you are will pick it's way." It's been slow, but it's still picking! Then there was this sign, written on an old fence at a Zen center I once saw that said, "The Way is Easy, Except for Picking and Choosing."
Posted by Peter on
Great quotes Bob! I would've love to have seen Walt Whitman speak. How cool would that've been? Leaves Of Grass is one of my all time favorite books. I even have a sketchbook with cartoons dedicated to lines and insights from "Leaves".
This reminds me to stop looking for things like 'my purpose' or 'my dharma'. Who we are is not discovered or revealed to us. It is who we have always been. Truly it is who we are. We can't escape it.
Thanks for your wisdom.
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