To my sister Darcy on her graduation day

A few years ago, one of my favourite writers and In Dulci Jubilo enthusiasts, Daisy Buchanan, wrote a fantastic piece for her sister on her graduation day; a piece I always think of whenever someone I know dons their own cap and gown. Today, my own sister officially ended her uni experience, so I thought I’d try and concoct something similar. Inspired by – if not quite as pitch-perfect as – Daisy’s masterpiece.

So Darcy, listen up.

After I stuttered out of UEA vaguely qualified in English and Drama, and Wiz escaped Southampton well-versed (geddit) in Music, you’ve completed our family’s performing arts trilogy by generally bossing the Dance thing; making you not only The Nimblest Of Us All but also – by getting a First – The Cleverest Of Us All.

We are quite similar in many ways (makes sense, given the shared parents) and I’ve already seen plentiful evidence as you get involved in a megaton of stuff on top of your existing workload, make the most of the people around you, comfort-binge on The OC and even accrue a boyfriend from The North (or, as they’d both probably argue, “the midlands”. Whatever, huns, it’s The North).

I also think we’re similar in that we don’t like to sit still (metaphorically, not literally), lest we start to hear ourselves think too loudly. Like if we don’t have lots on the go, we’re not valuable enough or moving fast enough. Either that or you’re just hella proactive. In any case it’s a good trait in disguise: however anxious or itchy-feety you are, hopefully that superhuman work ethic of yours will put you in a position in a couple of years’ time where you can take a moment’s pause and think, ‘oh, yeah, I’m actually making pretty good progress’.Just don’t get into the poisonous habit of comparing yourself to the brilliant things everyone around you is doing, as they’re having the exact same worries and insecurities as you. Whatever you do next, however little it pays and however unsure you may be over whether it’s The Right Thing To Do, you naturally have the belly-fire to make magic happen.

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That said, you won’t have much money for a long time. I’ll let you know when I figure out if/when you ever will. Sorry. It’s not personal, it’s a generational thing, a political thing, and a goddammit-why-couldn’t-I-have-been-passionate-about-being-a-corporate-lawyer-or-investment-banker thing. But when the day comes when you realise that you’re a destinys_child_independent_women.mp3, paying all your own bills and nailing life’s finances all by yourself – whether that’s in one year or ten (sorry dad, see reasons above) – it’ll be all the more satisfying.

Unfortunately that day may be delayed in the likely event that you spend some time working for free. Maybe, maybe not; depends what you fancy doing. It’s a pain and it’s fundamentally unfair, but could well be beneficial in the long run. Contacts are good, the experience is good, and……….. well those are the only two things that are good, to be honest, but they’re good things. Shame about the dollar.

But despite the ongoing budget crises – whatever you have to sacrifice, whatever lavish trip to New York you have to postpone until 2051 – don’t for the love of God jettison the idea of nice things. Spend a bit of cash on a night out. Buy yourself the item of clothing that you probably shouldn’t splurge on. See the show you’ll regret missing. Buy the nicer brand of sausages – the cheaper ones are always rancid and you can’t put a price on not having the runs. If you find yourself with an unexpected bit of extra cash, don’t be boring and save it. Spend it! Treat yourself! Let this video help you waft through life like a queen:

If you’re in two minds over whether to go on a night out, go. You’re more likely to regret not going than going. Unless the building you’re going to catches fire. But at the same time, if you’d rather stay in than set a single toe outside the front door, that’s also peachy – Carpe Diem is all well and good on paper but sometimes you just want to watch The Good Wife and eat ASDA own-brand jelly beans, you know what I mean?

Take pictures. Sod that, take VIDEOS! People piss and moan about Instagram and narcissism and all that, but when you’re old and bored, it’s going to be great to look back on the FUN TIMES you had whilst figuring out how to function as a struggling millennial. Don’t put a killer photo on Snapchat and forget to save it. You don’t want to miss the unbearable all-consuming cringe when it comes up on Timehop further down the line.

Finally, I guess the best piece of (unsolicited and probably unwanted) advice I can give you is this: I’ve straddled two industries in the five YES FIVE years since I graduated, and noticed one common thread for both; one that I presume will apply to many other worlds, including yours. People like to say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but the truth is that it’s both. And also pot luck. You need all three in equal measure, and whilst you can’t really do anything about the third one, you can stay on-the-case with the first two. Both come from experience, and networking, and biting the bullet, and taking risks, and #justgoingforit – things that I don’t really need to tell you about because you seem to be doing alarmingly well in that department anyway. But keep at it because at this rate you’ll be age 40, laughing at us from your apartment in Venice as you pen your memoirs. I’ll visit if I can afford it.

 

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