Life After Ripon – Jessie Lillis ’13

Chapter 5: Advice

[Editor’s Note: Jessie Lillis ’13, Elizabeth Brown ’13, Kyle Ruedinger ’13, and Amy Browender ’13 are writing alternating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]

When you’re getting ready to graduate from college, everyone has tons of advice for you. Some of that advice is incredibly helpful, and some of it is completely irrelevant, but you appreciate the gesture anyway. I’m still close enough to graduation that I remember what people told me, but I think I’m far enough away to know a few of the things that I wish I had known as I readied myself for the real world. I’m not saying I’m an expert on adult life, but I do have a few pieces of wisdom I thought it might be worth imparting to those getting ready to enter the big, bad, real world, and even those who have been in it for a while.

The Starbucks in real life never closes.
I remember a handful of times during college when the Starbucks on campus would close due to mechanical issues, or perhaps a lack of manpower during a particularly bad winter. Even when the federal government closes, the Starbucks stays open. We’ve had a number of “snow storms” since I’ve been here, and I’ve even been making up for the snow days that I didn’t get in college, but not once have I tried to go to a Starbucks and found it closed. This might have been the best possible thing that someone could have told me before graduation.

Staying in touch with your friends is so much harder than you think it will be, no matter how much you like them.
I met some of my very closest friends in the world while I was at Ripon, and I have no doubt that those people will be in my life for many years to come. But, despite how good you think you’ll be at staying in touch after graduation, it’s just not that easy. Sure, you’ll stay in touch with a few folks regularly, but especially if you move far away, there are people you’ll rarely, if ever, see or talk to again. It sounds depressing, but I think knowing that almost makes you cherish the time that you all have together more.

If you enter 1 allowance on your tax forms when you start your job, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you do your taxes.
Disclaimer: You should in no way shape or form take your tax advice from me. I know virtually nothing about taxes. But, my father told me to enter the “1” when I started my job and I can tell you first hand, I was overjoyed when I saw how much I’d be getting back in my refund this year. It forced me to budget a little more tightly across the last several months, but now it all seems worth it.

That money you just got from your tax return? You’re going to get excited about spending it on things like bedspreads or pots and pans.
It’s okay. Just let it happen.

Find the thing that makes you happy, and if at all possible, make sure that thing is always in your life.
Do you like dogs, and can you afford to take care of one? Get one. Do you really love karaoke? Find a karaoke bar near you. Do you feel the most joy when you’re playing board games? Find a group of people to play with. Sometimes being a “real adult” is sad or depressing. Sometimes you have to do things like buy new tires or get a root canal. These things are expensive and incredibly not fun, but they’re also a part of life. Make sure you have things to keep you happy when the un-fun things pop up in your life.

It’s not much, but it’s what I would have liked someone to tell me before I graduated. Hopefully, by this time next year one of the 2014 Ripon grads will look back and add their own wisdom to the list.

Jessie M. Lillis ’13
[email protected]

To read more alumni news, click here.


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