Thousands of young men and women have been and will be, over the next few weeks, graduating from one or the other university in the land.
Graduation is the culmination of years of sacrifice (often times we would rather have been playing), pain (corporal punishment is still alive and real) and tears (invoked by the first two but also by exam failure, puppy love gone sour and everything in between).
It is also the time when, whether all that hard work was worth it.
Not to rain on any ones parade here are some hard truths about the real world our graduates will find themselves flung out of the gates of university on to.
1. Your degree means nothing
I lie. But hear me out.
Our current education system is a carryover from industrial age Europe and is designed to churn out automatons to work in factories. Seeing as we are not yet an industrial nation there is a place for the education you have amassed. However the suggestion is that we may leap frog this industrialisation thing altogether, which would be a worry for the tens of thousands filing out of campus this month.
With technological advances we do not need all that labour, to put a bolt on a screw all day long for instance.
What this means is that school is not yet out. The biggest lesson from all those years in school is that you now know how to learn. To be a winner in a world of fast change, you have to able to learn faster and faster, discard old perspectives and even dare to reinvent oneself entirely – scientist becoming writers and artists becoming accountants.
2. Hunger, load shedding and the midnight cold will not kill you
It was a blast while it lasted. In the real world you can’t party till the morning and appear blurry eyed for an eight o’clock. You can’t just reach into the fridge and pull out a soda unless you put it there yourself. And if it rains turning over in your bed to catch a few more winks is not an option.
In short you have to grow up. And grow up fast.
Going without a meal because your salary can’t take you through the month will not kill you. Load shedding – or running out of yaka, is not the end of the world. And enduring the biting cold of a night shift does not make you a lesser man.
In fact the sooner you experience all this the better for you. There is nothing as pathetic as learning these lessons in your middle age.
3. Humility will be your best ally
You might have been the big man on campus, the guild president or the sports captain. Leave all that at the gate. Humility will be your biggest ally in manoeuvring through life from here on. You might know more than the boss, speak better English than the traffic policeman or even smell better than the taxi tout but it will serve little good to point it out. There are some battles you will do well to pass on.
Humility will help in keeping your eye on the long term and not get distracted by the rabbits on the path of life.
4. The consequences of your actions will live with you forever
Your transgressions can no longer be overcome with a teary outburst and feigned apology. Your actions have real consequences that will live with you for a life time. Staying on the straight and narrow is the best percentage play. Aim for sustainability over the one off pleasurable experience; accumulate experience rather than seek the elusive deal of a life time; treasure the quality rather than hanker after quantity in your relationships. And have a higher calling than just your egotistical desires to steer you on.
5. Amidst all this you must keep hope alive
Many times, hopefully only sometimes, life is going to come at you from all angles, throwing you challenge after challenge and it would really be bad form, not to mention bad manners, to go wailing to your mummy every time this happens.
You are young and alive. Going on probability you are going to live a long life – well at least until you are 59 (the national life expectancy), it is not the time to give up.
Through it all keep hope alive. Hang on to it like your life depends on it, because it does.
Otherwise congratulations to you all and may you come out the other side with a smile on your face and a spring in your step!