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The unquantifiable importance of Trent Richardson

September 21, 2012

ImageLast weekend the Browns lost a football game. That is not out of the ordinary.  I also watched every single play. This also is to be expected.  What was entirely different about last Sunday however was the feeling that any time the Browns were on offense they could score, from anywhere on the field.  The reason for this feeling is simple: Trent Richardson.

Trent Richardson stands at roughly 5’9 and weighs 230 pounds. He is made of layers beyond layers of equal parts muscle, determination and heart. He can run through a defender, make them miss with a swift cut or simply run right by them.  On Sunday Trent Richardson established himself onto a short list of athletes; he became a Channel Stopper.

Each sport has a number of these athletes. Those players that, when you’re flipping through the channels and you come across them, you immediately stop to watch.  In baseball currently there are three of these players for me: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Matt Kemp.  You have the feeling that something special is going to happen every time they step up to the plate.  Basketball is a little different because players are involved in every play but there are still Channel Stoppers: Kobe, Kevin Durant and, sadly, LeBron. You can also include athletes like Tiger about six years ago, Federer and Nadal and, for me, about 15 international soccer players. Football also has it’s Channel Stoppers: Vick before his arrest, Barry Sanders in the Tecmo Super Bowl days and currently you could also put Cam Newton up there.  Add one more name to that list: Trent Richardson.

For this reason, Trent is already more valuable than Brandon Weeden can ever hope to be. Weeden could turn out to be a very good quarterback and lead this team to success but the reason that the Cleveland Browns will start to play games in prime time in the coming years is the physical specimen that is Trent Richardson.  ESPN, NBC, Fox & CBS are always looking for marquee matchups, big time stars and Channel Stoppers.  I will watch any football game I can find but the average fan is more likely to stop on a game if they see a big name (Manning, Brady, etc…) or if they think something special might happen. T-Rich provides that spark.

The odds are the Browns won’t win many games this year. They may even lose Sunday to the Bills (for what it’s worth I have them winning). Hell. they might even end up with one of the worst records in the league.  As a Clevelander these things are hard to accept but for the first time since LeBron we have hope for a better tomorrow. I don’t know what the final score will be Sunday and I don’t know if/when the Browns will get back to the playoffs but what I do know is this: I will watch every single second of that game expecting something special to happen anytime #33 touches the ball.  THAT cannot be measured by stats, wins or losses.  It may not be a championship yet but we have our start. We have our Channel Stopper.

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Two Tragedies; the same and yet so different

August 7, 2012

In the past few months we have witnessed appalling tragedies happening throughout our country.  Fires have ravaged homes and taken lives, droughts have caused entire crops to burn, apparently zombies are “real” and most recently two truly heartbreaking events occurred when a man walked into a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire and, this past weekend, another man walked into a temple in Wisconsin and proceeded to do the same.

While all these events are horrible, the first few can be attributed to natural disasters and, perhaps, global temperature issues that we seem to have brought upon ourselves.  I don’t want to start a political debate though (you can find enough of those during Olympics commercials) and so rather I want to focus on the savage events that have occurred most recently. More specifically I’d like to discuss how they were/are being covered and talked about in the news and by society in general.

When James Holmes walked into an Aurora movie theatre and began massacring helpless patrons the news world proceeded to explode: and rightfully so.  You couldn’t turn on a television or visit any social media website without getting the latest updates. Who was the shooter? Did he act alone? How many are dead? Did he really say he was the Joker? And the critical question that no one seems to have an answer for- Why did he do this?

Why?

The story garnered massive attention for a number of reasons. First, the act itself was vicious and not something we hear about every day. Second, it hit home because seemingly half the world planned on seeing this movie and it could’ve happened in any theatre, anywhere. Perhaps the greatest reason why this story garnered such attention though is because of the last question I asked above.  No one is able to make sense of why this happened.

As a people we need to have “Why?” answered.  We can’t move on until we know the meaning. It’s why you stay and watch movies until the end.  It’s the reason that, as soon as we found out all the “zombie” attacks were related to some mysterious drug nicknamed “bath salts” the story died down (even if that’s not true…) Think of it like the movie The Prestige– As soon as you know the truth behind an event the thrill, magic and interest is gone.

This is why national tragedies don’t remain stories for very long. Yes, it’s devastatingly sad that Tornadoes ravage entire towns and uproot the lives on countless people.  But the story went away because “Oh…well, tornadoes are going to happen”.  We have our reason. We can move on. In fact, more time is often spent focusing on the failures of the government and the lack of proper preparation instead of the horrors of the event and the people whose lives were taken far too soon.

This is why I’m upset but not surprised about the news coverage of the recent shootings in Wisconsin.  This weekend a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh Temple and murdered 6 people and nearly killed a police officer before being fatally shot by the officer’s partner.  This awful story could be found if you went to a news channel or website but for the most part it wasn’t that big of a story.  People on Twitter and Facebook seemed mostly nonchalant about it.  But why?  Just like the Aurora shootings this could have happened to anyone.  It occurred at a place of worship, on a regular day, in a community just like yours and yet, no one seemed to care.

I have two thoughts why this happened and I’m really hoping only one of them is the real reason. However, both answers are pretty disappointing for us as a society.  First, it didn’t garner a long-standing story because we knew the reason. A white supremacist murders 6 people at a Temple because they resemble Islamic people and are mistaken for extremists…somehow. Never mind the fact that the Sikh religion is based upon the belief that everyone is genuinely equal and good. See, we know why he did it so… yep, it’s sad but time to move on. It’s almost as if we justify it because, “That’s what hate groups do”. The second and even more disappointing reason is because they do resemble Muslims so we, as Americans, just don’t care about them very much. It’s a disappointing truth that, since 9/11, anyone with a beard, darker skin and a turban obviously follows a belief system founded on “Death to America!”   The truth is that these people are generally are peaceful and, often times, much more welcoming than we “Americans”.

Now before you go getting all riled and posting comments about how wrong I am please just understand this: a few days ago a man walked into a peaceful place of worship and viciously fired a deadly weapon at helpless people minding their own business and it was barely worth a BREAKING NEWS update when the same thing happened a few weeks ago at a movie theatre and the country lost their minds.  I can’t imagine any possible scenario where I could be filled with blind rage or hate so intensely that I felt the need to take someone else’s life. These events are indescribably tragic and both deserve to be known about and reflected on. Sadly though, only one is receiving the attention it deserves. And that leads me to ask just one question…Why?

be Inspired. be a Leader

July 18, 2012

I have always considered myself an athlete. I am not paid to play a sport, nor was I ever but that does not change the fact that I consider myself an athlete. I played football all the way through high school and baseball all the way through college.  I woke up at 4 am in the middle of winter snowstorms to head to practices and I ran countless miles in the sweltering heat during summer conditioning sessions.  Even though my competitive playing days are long gone I still consider myself an athlete. I still get up before the sun to work out and my mind is still most clear when sweat is dripping off my body. I am an athlete.

Athletics has provided me with many wonderful moments in life: I’ve hit walk off home runs, been featured on radio stations and in newspapers. I even broke a few records along the way.  I’ve received awards and was the captain of every baseball and football team I’ve ever played for. One of the things that these captaincies required was the ability to motivate my peers. In order to be a leader sometimes you need to push others to be more than they think they can be.  I was never blessed with the most talent on a team but I made sure that no one ever outworked me.  While I always made sure to lead with my actions, one thing I have been blessed with is the ability to inspire those around me with my words.

In fact, motivational speeches are one of the things I miss most about athletics.  Whether it was a coach pushing us to give everything we had for the last two quarters, to ‘be perfect’ just one time or a late inning powwow to try and spark a rally; these moments are times that I’ll never forget and, unfortunately, cannot reproduce.

The interesting thing about the two sports I played is how polar opposite their speeches were. In baseball it’s all about taking everything slowly and staying calm, relaxed even. Often times we’d be playing four games in two days and so it was essential to remember that it’s a grind. Each pitch and play can mean the difference but you’re never truly out of a game.  There is no time limit for baseball.  As Roger Angell said, “Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.” The whole point of a baseball speech is to keep the team from tensing up. With baseball there’s always time, until of course…there isn’t.

Football speeches are just the opposite.  In football, a team busts their ass all week for that one opportunity; that one chance to shine under those bright lights.  Whole cities might come out to see a football game.  In fact, it’s more than a game, it’s an event; a moment in time.  Football is all about treasuring what is in front of you and ‘being perfect’ if only for that one moment.  It’s about harnessing all of the adrenaline, stress and strength in your body and focusing on expelling it all in one instance.  To play football the right way you have to play it like there is no tomorrow.  You’ll have the rest of your life to dwell on those moments; and trust me you will.

A great speech can affect the outcome of an event.  While the words spoken can’t make a player catch a pass or hit a breaking ball it can motivate them to give that little something extra, to work harder than they thought possible. A great speech can inspire, bring goosebumps and even move one to tears.

My initial idea was to write out the speech I would give as a coach of a team but seeing as how the meaning and purpose of a speech depends on the situation I decided to provide you with some videos of my favorites instead.  Enjoy…and be inspired:

 

 

 

And finally, Coach Lou Brown, showing us the difference between a football and baseball speech…

 

 

I believe… It’s really Hot

June 28, 2012

LeBron James just won his first NBA championship, the Indians have apparently forgotten how to win, it’s 100 degrees outside and there’s a fire the size of Colorado raging in Colorado right now.  Summer has arrived and it is currently dropping a record setting hammer on the entire country.  I’ve stated my beliefs many times that I prefer the cooler seasons.  There’s no better time in my mind than October through December: changing leaves, warm meals, holidays and pumpkin spiced everything.  But there will be time for all these things in a few months.  For now, it looks like we, as a people, could use some things to believe in to get us through these sweltering times.

Well here I am to provide you all the inspiration you need.  Let’s crank out a list of summer beliefs to put a smile on some faces, shall we?

I believe in pool side cocktails; in floating lazily on a raft with a Leffe Blonde in my hand while Holden sleeps on the deck.

I believe in beaches and sunsets; in watching the sky change from blue to purple to orange as we catch that last glimpse of the day over the water…even if it is Lake Erie.

I believe in 5:30 am Insanity workouts; in waking up, working out and then feeling good the rest of the day.

I believe in the NBA draft; in Cavs rumors of trades and the hopes of picking a star for the 2nd year in a row.

I don’t usually believe in acronym nicknames but if Cleveland gets MKG I’ll make an exception.

 I believe in starting to get excited about the NFL, despite it not yet being July. I believe in betting futures and devouring every article written about the gambling season to come.

I believe in bachelor party chain emails, even if I don’t get to read them just yet.

I believe in grilled French Toast breakfasts, pair with a glass of Pappy.

I believe in personalized Mad Hatter’s Hat’s, lightning bolts and getting mom to write ‘Breathe’ for Meg and me…

I believe in the hunt for our second dog. The early process of finding a breeder and then staring at puppy pictures for hours on end.

I believe in long nights at the ball park, when the sun would stay out til 9 and the heat index never dropped below 90.

I believe in wooden bats with picturesque tape jobs and so much pine tar that your helmet sticks to your hand.

I believe in flat brimmed, salt-stained hats and knockoff Oakley’s.

I believe in driving home from work on a Friday with the windows down and some Credence turned up.

I believe that, while this might not be my favorite time of year, there’s still plenty to love about the summer

And I believe that the fall is coming…

A Balding Star’s Journey to Nothingness

June 12, 2012

 

A little over a year ago I started this blog to talk about things that were on my mind. A LOT of it has been sports related, including one of my first posts in which I talked about LeBron James.  In addition to starting my blog last year, something else was happening that was almost as big (sarcasm, you’re best): LeBron, fresh off his nationally televised breakup with the city of Cleveland, was in the NBA finals with his new team, the Miami Heat. Not only had they made it that far, but they were heavy favorites to win the championship as well.

During that time I wrote that, if LeBron were to immediately win a title by turning his back on his our city, it would be the worst possible outcome. I even stated that at some point this team would probably win a title but if it were to happen that first year it’d just seem cruel.  Well God apparently has a big heart and a sense of humor because not only did the Heat lose to the Dallas Mavericks but it happened in the best way possible; with LeBron wilting under pressure and failing to deliver when it mattered the most.

Cleveland, if only for a moment, was able to revel in the angst and disappointment on LeBron’s face as the national media buried him for his lack of clutch. The Heat would probably have their day in the sun (pun intended) but it hadn’t happened yet.  The Cavs weren’t champions, but neither was our public enemy number one. In some way that felt right.

Here we are a year later and again the Heat are in the finals. This time though, they are not the favorites; that honor goes to the younger and more athletic Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Thunder can match Miami’s star power, are healthier and might even have the better player in Kevin Durant. That’s not the only difference in my eyes though.  I may watch the games but this time around I won’t have that weight in the pit of my stomach.  I won’t be cheering for the Thunder like they’re my own team; praying that they can somehow deny LeBron his first title.  I’ve reached a point now where I’m over it all. I simply don’t care what happens with this man any longer.

Throughout this year the hatred and venom towards LeBron has mostly fallen off.  Yes, he’s still booed in Cleveland but not nearly as harshly as last year, and around the rest of the league no one seems to care about The Decision any more. They might not agree with it, but they aren’t mad about it either. There’s even been conversations involving LeBron considering a return to Cleveland and questions about if the fan base and Dan Gilbert would ever take him back. (Tangent: the answer to both questions is yes by the way. LeBron would have to show true remorse and apologize but to even consider that fans wouldn’t cheer again for the greatest physical talent since Wilt is a joke. He’d apologize and after his first 33-12-14 game we’d all lose our minds as we chanted, “MVP… MVP”. As for Gilbert, he’s a proud man but he’s also a smart man who cares about his brand and business. LeBron brings media, attention and money. If he really wants to come back, he’ll come back.) It even appears as if he’s remorseful about the whole situation. As if he finally realizes how horribly he handled the entire situation.

If the Heat do lose this series I’ll probably smile but only for a moment.  Maybe they’ll try to retool their team and that could be entertaining as well but regardless it’s not going to affect me.  Not like it did last year.  The same rings true for if Miami wins. I simply do not care anymore.  I’ve become apathetic to what LeBron James does and it feels fantastic.  If you want to show someone that they cannot hurt you anymore simply do not react.  LeBron, I don’t even care enough about you to hate you anymore.  Congratulations. In trying to become something even greater than you were, you’ve become nothing. Enjoy your parade.

I believe… This is not the end

June 1, 2012

I don’t know if you’re aware of this but, apparently, the world is ending.  I don’t mean the whole “The Mayans predicted the end of days!” garbage because, as I’ve mentioned in the past, if the Mayans were that good at predicting the future than we’d still have Mayans around today. What I’m talking about is the seemingly endless supply of ridiculous (and violent) stories that have come across the wire this week.  Literally every morning you could open up your internet browser, head to a news website and find out that someone had either eaten someone else or that they’ve decided to send body part parcels to government officials.  In case you don’t know what I’m talking about just go to www.gawker.com.  If you scroll down the page they literally have an entire section dedicated just to stories about ‘cannibals’.

We’ve reached the point now where there might not be a news story that could surprise me.  Guy in Miami ate a homeless man’s face? Of course he did. Supposed Canadian gay porn star is mailing feet to government officials? Well, duh. A guy threw his own intestines at police. Sounds about right. The only people who are truly excited right now are horror movie screenplay writers because they finally have some new ‘based on a true story’ atrocities to write about.

The world right now can be a dark and terrible place.  Its times like these that you need something to believe in most. Luckily, The Most Optimistic Man in America is back and not a moment too soon.  With all the awful that has filled the world here’s another list of things to get you through:

As always, in list form; here are the things I believe in right now…

I believe in summer Fridays; in coming home for the weekend to a happy puppy and 48 hours of freedom.

I believe in the perfect grill marks. In fire scorched burgers, sausage and chicken.

I believe in stadium mustard. The perfect complement to any grilled concoction.  I believe that if you put ketchup on a hot dog instead of Stadium Mustard than you are a communist.

I believe in afternoon baseball games and RTA rides with my parents. I believe in toughing it out through 100 degree heat with no breeze while we pull for the tribe to pull out a little magic.

That said, I do NOT believe in $42 for four beers. You want fans to show up? Stop charging a tank of gas for a round of drinks.

Now that the moving week has come and gone I believe in new houses. I believe that a fresh coat of paint and some simple decorations can make a house feel like a home.

I believe in long runs; in turning on a good playlist and letting your mind wander. I believe in each step being easier than the last and that the only way to run farther is to RUN FARTHER.

I believe in self-motivation; in finding new ways to challenge one’s self without needing to pay someone to yell at you.

Sometimes though, you do need something more than just an inner drive. In those times I believe in motivational quotes. Especially those by Pre…

“You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement” –Steve Prefontaine

I still believe in 5Ks for great causes; I believe in the Race for the Cure and the Family and Friends of Etta Sockel.

I believe in upstairs neighbors who you’ve been friends with for a decade; in sharing a drink at the end of the night or having the dogs run up and down the stairs barking their heads off in excitement.

In the coming months I’ll believe in my newest tattoo.

I believe in checking our wedding registry daily as we get closer to our wedding shower. I believe in getting WAY too excited about a grilling skillet.

I believe in going to buy wedding bands, planning a honeymoon and counting down the days until I get to marry my best friend.

I believe in European football and losing my mind over my team’s promotion back to the EPL. I believe in 7 am Saturday morning kickoffs complete with a Boddingtons’s and singing Forever Blowing Bubbles…

I believe in overreacting to NFL OTA’s, NBA draft rumors and a weekend 3-game Tribe series.

I believe in celebrating a niece’s first birthday with a smash cake and a party. I believe in my newest Goddaughter and the life she’s yet to lead. I believe in family, even in the times when they frustrate and irritate.

I believe in all these things and so much more. I believe in finding the good in a situation whenever possible; if someone can’t see the good than I believe in taking it upon myself to show them that good. I believe that, sometimes, it’s my job to give you a reason to smile.

Now that I’ve done my part, I believe I’ll have a drink. Happy Friday, everyone

Na Zdravie!

Congratulations Graduates…

May 22, 2012

During the early years of life major milestones are celebrated by graduation.  You graduate from pre-school and head to the number grades.  You graduate from 8th grade and into high school.  Next comes high school graduation and, if you’re blessed and determined, college and beyond.  All of these “graduations” signify different moments in our growth towards adulthood but they are celebrated in much the same fashion: parade the graduates around, hand them a piece of paper, have someone important give a speech about things to come and then…cake.

When I graduated 8th grade something occurred during the ceremony that I still remember to this day.  I attended Junior High at the same place that I’d be attending High School: Lorain Catholic. I am the youngest of four siblings (two girls, two boys) and all of us graduated from LC.  In case you’re just joining my blog you should also know that my brother and I are incredibly close. When I was graduating 8th grade he was graduating from high school.  One of the traditions at Lorain Catholic was to have a graduating senior give the commencement speech to the 8th graders and my brother, with his outstanding writing skills, was chosen to send us off.

As my brother stood at the front of the auditorium, filled with my classmates and our families, he delivered a message that I have never forgotten.  He talked about how, for the first three years of High School he was introverted; too shy to participate in a lot of activities that he may have enjoyed.  His senior year he came out of his shell and loved every minute of it.  His message to us was, “Don’t wait to discover the things you love.  These four years will be over before you know it. Don’t make the mistake I made and miss out on the opportunities you have in front of you today.”

In a room full of people I felt like he was speaking directly to me; his little brother. I spent High School being as active as I could; Captain of the football and baseball team, I sung solos (in tights) in the drama club, I was on the yearbook committee, Student Council and I helped with retreats and dances.  I didn’t care what anyone else’s opinion of me was.  I did what made me happy. The same rang true for college.  In fact, the only thing that he was wrong about was that the four years didn’t fly by, eight did.

After college I shuffled through a few years, struggling to find my place.  I have no doubts that many of the graduates about to leave their trusted college campuses in the coming weeks feel the same way.  While no one (yet) has asked me to be a keynote speaker, I thought I’d prepare a speech anyways.  What follows are my humble words of advice for everyone about to graduate college and step out into the real world for the first time…

Graduates, let me be the next in a long line of people to tell you this: Congratulations.  What you have just accomplished is something that 80% of Americans will not do; you graduated college.  This is something you should be proud of. For the rest of your life you are a college graduate.  While this carries some nice cache it does not make you entitled.  A college degree may get you into the door of an interview but it does not guarantee you a salary and benefits.  Unfortunately, a large number of you are probably realizing this as we speak and you’ll continue to realize it in the coming weeks as you apply for countless positions; some you are qualified for and others, not so much.  Don’t get flustered.  It’s a process.

For those of you who are sitting comfortably because you have already landed a great position or because you’ve been accepted to graduate school; well done.  That is an impressive feat and you should be proud.  For the other 98% of you out there: don’t get down on yourselves.  Dream careers don’t always come along immediately.  Sometimes you have to shuffle through difficult jobs and situations to find your happy place.  Gold isn’t found at the surface and not all who wander are lost.  Trust me; I wandered for a long time before I discovered a job I loved. I worked for my father, went to grad school, bartended, went back to my dad’s office and then stumbled into a job that I love by sending out more resumes than I care to remember.

Something you’re going to realize over the next few months is that your life is about to change, again. Some of you may move back to your home cities or to brand new ones entirely but even if you’re staying here know that you’re about to experience a tidal wave of change that you might not be ready for, and that, too, is ok. Change is both inevitable and healthy but it also might be a little scary. When I graduated college I wish someone would have given me a laundry list of what to expect.  Now I know that every situation is different but I’m going to give you a rundown of some things you’ll come across in your newfound life as a recent grad.

  1. Waking up before the sunrise is hard, but you WILL get used to it. When you are fortunate to gain employment you’ll quickly realize that work life starts early. Really, really early. I used to struggle to wake up for my 9:30 am classes.  Now I’m in the office and at my desk by 7:30 am.  For the first few weeks you might feel like life is ending; you couldn’t possibly ever be this tired. It gets better.  You’ll start realizing that you are allowed to go to bed at a reasonable hour instead of watching that ‘Fresh Prince’ marathon and you’ll begin waking up feeling rested and ready for the day. This schedule change has some interesting side effects. For example: sleeping in on the weekends will start to mean waking up around 9 am instead of noon.  That sounds scary to hear but you can be pretty productive with those 3 extra hours. Not to mention…weekend brunch.
  2. Living at your parents for a year isn’t the worst thing in the world. If you are working, imagine the money you’ll be saving and if you aren’t working, imagine the money you WON’T be spending. I know you’ve grown accustomed to your independence but you may want to consider the price of that independence.  You’d be amazed at how much it costs to live on your own: rent, bills, food and all the other ancillary items that you need on a day to day basis.  There are things in life you need that you don’t even realize right now. I mean, do you have any idea how expensive an iron and ironing board can be? Which brings me to my next point…
  3. IRON YOUR CLOTHES.  You’re not a college kid rolling out of bed anymore; heading to class with a hangover. So don’t go around dressing like one.
  4. Look around you.  Right now you’re probably surrounded with friends you’ve spent the last four years sharing every single moment with.  You got drunk together, watched Eurotrip and Beerfest repeatedly together; you cried together and probably fought as well. During that time, hanging out was a simple as crossing the hall and walking through the door that your friends obviously never bothered to lock. Unfortunately this is no longer going to be the case. You’ll probably share a city or ZIP code with at least some of these people but a lot of you might not even be in the same state. It’s not going to be easy to stay in touch but try your best. You’ll lose track of a lot of the people in this room because it’s simply not going to be possible to stay close any more but keep as many of these friends as you can.  Something else you’ll learn to love during this post graduation timeframe is road trips.  There’s nothing greater than piling into a car and discovering a new city.  With the exception of discovering that new city with an old friend who already lives there.  Keep in touch. Skype, text, call or email. Whatever you have to do. In 40 years when you’re reminiscing about ‘the good ole days’ it will be more fun doing it with people who were actually there.
  5. Explore.  Don’t be afraid to see new places. Look, I know what it’s like to not have any money. Heck, I still don’t have any real money.  Obviously big vacations like heading to Europe or a two-week cross country road trip might not be feasible but there’s no reason you can’t have new life experience on a budget.  Map out a weekend with friends in a city you’ve never seen and split a motel room. Go whitewater rafting.  Explore city landmarks you’ve never bothered to care about.  Try new foods and restaurants you can’t pronounce and go to concerts of bands you’ve never heard of.  Some of the greatest moments of your life will happen when you least expect them.
  6. Don’t say no.  You’re going to have coworkers and friends invite you to a wide variety of events and activities that you might not think sound appealing or even enjoyable.  Don’t immediately dismiss these offers. Co-ed Kickball? Corporate Challenge obstacle course? Happy hour at that weird Thai restaurant? You’ll dwell on the memories you don’t make almost as often as you think about the ones that you do.  Jim Carey was right…sometimes you just have to say yes.
  7. Reward yourself.  Even the best job in the world can become monotonous and a little stale. Your day to day life can be taxing and repetitive. In order to break this up plan things to look forward to and then prepare for those moments.  Whether it’s a weekend trip to visit friends, treating yourself to some shopping, or planning a short vacation for yourself, it’s important to create mini-milestones.
  8. You’re allowed to be nostalgic. Take it from me, you’ll hear a song that reminds you of your sophomore year significant other or the time you drank red-eyes and stayed up all night not studying for your Italian final. Maybe a certain meal will always remind you of cafeteria lunches with friends on a Friday while you planned out your skipping class excuses for the afternoon.  Regardless of the memories, make sure to look back upon the fondly.  It may hurt that they’re over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t smile when think about them. 

Life is about to change. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground by telling you that. I could have spent this time telling you about saving money for the future and contributing to your 401(K) but you’ll have plenty of people telling you that stuff soon enough.  What I want to make sure you do is to cherish the live you’re about to lead. For most of you, you’re going to start making real money for the first time.  You’ll buy new cars and work clothes and you’ll start to appreciate all the knickknacks Target has to offer.  You may even begin enjoying stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel.  You’ll finally understand the true joy of Happy Hour. Perhaps you’ll start to appreciate wine and, trust me; you’ll love and anticipate each and every brunch, especially at restaurants with mimosas and Bloody Mary Bars.

When I walked away from college it took me a while to stop thinking my life was over. Everyone says that college is the best four years of your life. Well, I loved every single minute of my time there but in the four years since I walked across that stage I’ve lived in multiple cities, gotten engaged, bought a puppy and traveled the country both for work and pleasure.  I still miss the campus life but I wouldn’t trade these life experiences for anything in the world.

Your life is not over. In fact, it’s just beginning.  You still have the ability to be anyone you want.  You can achieve great things or you can simply not.  The point is, it’s up to you.  You have knowledge, friends, family and a diploma in your hand.  Your life can be absolutely anything you want it to be.  The choice is entirely up to you and THAT is something worth congratulating.

Enjoy the coming weeks and months, you’re about to find out just how wonderful life after college can be. I’ll see you at brunch.