This morning, I noticed I was about to hit Inbox 1000. That’s just too much. If every other aspect of my life is in freefall, the least I can do is reign in my e-mails. Deleting, archiving, responding, etc. I’m now down to Inbox 379 and hoping to get to 100 before noon. I was on a roll until I hit e-mail #295, sent from my college mentor just prior to graduation. Ken, who was the associate director of College Park Scholars, was known for sending out funny, engaging e-mails that were on par with his funny, engaging personality. When he passed away suddenly last year, I didn’t just lose a mentor — I lost a friend. I don’t know why today happened to be the day I found the graduation e-mail, but it was perfect timing. Funemployment is the most misnamed thing in the world, and it has been a struggle to keep my spirits up. If it’s been that way for you recently, read his e-mail, especially the last few paragraphs. It certainly made my day better.

Subject line: One more e-mail before you graduate

Body: … of course, that’s not to say that I won’t be bothering you with an occasional email after you graduate.  Anyway, there are a few things I can almost always count on when graduation rolls around.  First, some of you will invariably ask about the Media freshmen (“Are they as good as we were?”).  Second, I can always count on seeing lots of you in Cumberland in the weeks just prior to graduation as you come by to get your Scholars medallions (without a doubt, something I look forward to the most during May).  And, finally, I can count on one of you to ask if I’ll be sending out one more email with some final words or some advice.
I thought I was going to escape that last one this year, but somebody stopped by Cumberland just this morning, asked about the current group of freshmen (“Are they as
cool as we were?”), picked up her medallion, and then asked about the farewell email (she will remain anonymous so that nobody will attack her for prompting me to write this).  Seriously, folks, I don’t know that I’m somebody people ought to be taking much advice from, but I guess I can say a few things.
Before I get started though, let me just say that this promises to be somewhat sappy and nostalgic, and perhaps even a bit avuncular (yep, I took the SAT’s at one point in my life, too).  Oh, and as I’m sure you all anticipated, it’s not going to be short.  So, if you’re not in the mood for that type of stuff, you can stop reading now, delete this email, and continue with your life knowing that I wish you the best.
Okay, for those of you who actually stuck around, I’ll continue.  As I’ve told many of you before, this time of year is always bittersweet for me.  Of course, I’m incredibly proud of everything you’ve been able to accomplish so far, and I’m in awe of the potential I see in each of you.  However, it’s always a bit sad to reflect upon the fact that you’re leaving the university after what seemed, to me, such a brief period of time.
That being said, you’ve accomplished a great deal in the short time you were here, and I have no doubt that you are all going to accomplish even greater things in your future.  You are an incredibly bright, charismatic, talented, and fun group of individuals, and I consider myself fortunate to have met you and to have known you in the time that you’ve been at Maryland.
I love my job.  I enjoy the work that I do, I get to work with some incredible people (uh, that would be you folks), and on a daily basis, in working with students such as all of you, I get to see tangible evidence showing the value of the work that we do in Scholars.   Sometimes it’s kind of difficult to believe that I get paid to do this (and yes, I’m certain that many of you find it amazing that the university pays me to do what I do).
That last paragraph actually has a point (yes, folks, occasionally there are “points” to be found in my email) — it sort of serves as a transition into the advice portion of this email.  Again, I don’t know that I’m in a position to offer you advice, but here goes.  My first suggestion concerns money:  don’t take a job just for the money.  I made more money in my first post-college job than I ever imagined I would, and I absolutely hated the job.  I actually knew that I wasn’t particularly interested in the job itself before I accepted it, but I thought the money was too good to turn down.  I couldn’t have been more wrong — it wasn’t worth the money, it was hell, it was absolutely the worst year of my life.  While it was nice to have lots of disposable income, I was too miserable to really take advantage of it.  Find something you enjoy doing rather than focusing on something simply because you’ll make lots of money.
I guess the only other piece of advice I have would be this:  don’t let others define success for you.  Ultimately, success is self-determined.  If you’re happy where you are in life, and happy with who you are, does it really matter if you don’t fall within the parameters of somebody else’s subjective definition of success?  Don’t worry so much about what others feel you need to do in order to succeed.  Figure it out for yourself and work toward achieving goals that you feel are going to lead to whatever it is that you define as success.
Okay, so I think that’s all I’ve got.  It truly has been a pleasure getting to know you, and I sincerely hope to hear from you later.  Good luck and take care!  (Oh, and if you happen to have a dollar on you the next time I see you, I would be more than happy to accept it as a donation toward the charity softball tournament … it’s for the kids, after all.)

-k-

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