Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Korean's Advice for Recent College Graduates

Dear Korean,

Do you have any good life lessons for a recent college grad?


Dear Michael,

First of all, big congratulations on your graduation and everyone's.

The Korean was hoping that he is too young to give "life lessons" to anyone, particularly to those who just graduated college. (The Korean is a class of 2004.) But looking back the last seven years since the Korean's graduation out of college, there definitely is one life lesson that he wishes someone had told him.

The lesson is: don't be in a hurry.

At around age 21-23, the majority of the years in a fresh college graduate's life was spent getting ready for college (to varying degrees, of course.) As a college graduate, one cannot help but feel like having done everything there is to be done, and the only thing that remains is to enjoy the spoils. There will be jobs, money and boy/girlfriends galore at the end of the rainbow.

But of course, that is not true -- especially not in this economy. So the time after college graduation feels like a strange letdown. Everything that was supposed to be waiting for you is not just not there -- you have to go out and earn them, and that process is not any easier than any part of your life you have already experienced. Unless you are among the lucky few, you will find that the huge dreams you once had for yourself will probably not happen in reality. (This is usually the point in life at which going to law/business/medical school in a vain attempt to recapture the college experience becomes increasingly attractive.)

The same type of thing also happens in the dating life. This will usually be the period in your life in which you have a torrid love affair with someone. Being with that person will bring you supreme ecstasy, and getting rejected by or breaking up with that person (which, let me tell you right now, will most likely happen) will feel like death. The time spent being between significant others will feel like trudging in a vast, unending desert.

This is the moment to remember the Korean's advice: don't be in a hurry. Don't despair over the feeling that you are not going anywhere. Things always work themselves out as long as you have a clear goal in mind. If you do not have a clear goal in mind, it is not a waste of time to spend one or two or five years figuring that out. The goal does not have to be anything grandiose -- unless grandiosity is what makes you happy. And when you do figure that out, never let it go. The right boy/girl usually comes along when you finally have a good idea who that right boy/girl is. Same goes with the right career and the right lifestyle.

Once those things are figured out, life just gets really easy. Not easy like not having to try hard, but easy like not having to feel lost all the time. As long as you keep moving toward the goals you set for yourself, life gets better and better every day.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at

p.s. Google/Blogger added a "+1" button at the bottom of each post, which acts like Facebook's "Like" button. If you liked this post, please click that button before you move on. :)


  1. Dear The Korean,

    Thank you so much for this awesome post :D

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I have to say this is great advice. I'm still in the post graduation depression (1 year working the same job I had while I was in school) and am definitely feeling the urge to go back - that and the student loan payments. It's just so hard to be patient but I'll try!

    Oops didn't mean to delete my comment...

  4. Great column topic!

    Another "life lesson" to add, have roommates when you're in your twenties! The money I saved by splitting rent and utilities allowed me to pay off my credit card and pursue hobbies I wanted to learn. This is especially true for those living in big cities like New York where a one bedroom or studio might cost half your monthly paycheck.

  5. Is it just me, or is Avenue Q one of the most relevant pieces of fiction for any person in their post-college 20s?

  6. This post really does hit the spot.

  7. Just what I needed today. I've been working and taking night classes to get to grad school, and it's been YEARS, and sometimes that just feels like a total waste.

    (And I'm fully aware that grad school is a nest of vipers - the goal is not school, but the jobs/experiences it will enable.)

  8. I wish someone told me this too! In so much hurry I settled in a job I thought I can get away from eventually but then again, can't (not that I didn't try) because I just need to earn a living.

  9. my advice being in my 30's and happily living a life that I totally completely did NOT expect.

    1) in your 20's - you have life by the balls. don't limit yourself based on what your "plan" is or your parents' plan for you or what your peers are doing. Don't stay so conservative. Go for every crazy opportunity that comes your way and work your ass off. Even if an opportunity doesn't "fit" your lifestyle or you don't think will help your "big goal" - go for it. It will lead to bigger and better things. If you fail, it's okay. No one will remember your failings when you're in your 30's, they will only remember that you had the courage to try.

    2) As for bf/gf/ friends - if they don't support you or add positivity to your life - drop them. You'd be surprised how many years you can waste with someone. Use your 20's to try things you're passionate about.

    3) To your bosses/employers - don't be so concerned about your "lack of experience." Show them you are open to doing anything and everything and are willing to learn anything and everything. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes, it's better to make a decision and apologize for it later, than to wait and wait and wait to get "approval" from your higher ups.

    4) Don't worry if you don't have life figured out by the time you're 30. Don't think you're friends who are married and have kids have it figured out either. They just have less choices.

  10. This was just what I needed to read today. Thanks :)

  11. The most encouraging piece of advice I've heard in the last 6 months post graduation :)


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