I bet none of you remember a time before the internet. Hell, you probably don’t even remember a time before the Facebook page Dartmouth Memes for Cold AF Teens. Yeah, yeah, I know about that. Made me feel like a real creep researching it.
Hello, I’m a 38-year old woman who wants to join your teen Facebook group. It’s for research, I swear. Meanwhile, when I was in college, we didn’t even have Google. You wanted to find out, say, how tall Ben Affleck was, you were out of luck. You just had to sit there not knowing and your entire day would be ruined.
Or say I wanted to meet up with a friend. I couldn’t just text her, I had to walk outside and hope I accidentally bumped into her. Or I blitzed her. Ah, BlitzMail.
You know that feeling you have when you tell your friends that you blitz and they don’t get it and roll your eyes all smug like “Oh, it’s a Dartmouth thing.” That ends today.
You try to say blitz 100 yards east of White River Junction and you will get laughed back to your one room triple in the Choates.
Fun fact. In 2001, the year I graduated, a pink eye epidemic broke out amongst my classmates because we were all using public BlitzMail iMac terminals and not washing our hands. Those are just kind of sexy stories indicative of my time at Dartmouth.
You have so many cool new things here now. Like look at the new logo, the D-Pine. It’s beautiful. It reminds me of what college age Mindy thought a marijuana weed might look like but I was too scared to actually find out.
And this new house system, it sounds really cool. It’s so Hogwarts-y. You know, you’re sorted into your little Gryffindors and Ravenclaws, except they’re called South House, West House, School House.
Okay, come on, guys, School House, really? We’re just saying what we see? That’s the laziest name I’ve ever heard in my life and I spent over a decade working on shows called The Office and The Mindy Project.
Still, I remember sitting where you’re sitting. I was so full of questions like “When is thing going to end?” and “How many friends can I invite to dinner and still have Mom and Dad pay?”
And most importantly, “Why didn’t I wear any clothes underneath my gown?”
Now we’re reaching the part of the speech where I’m supposed to tell you something uplifting, like follow your dreams. In general, advice isn’t actually an effective way to change your life.
As Madeleine Albright said at my commencement… See, I don’t remember anything and I do just fine. So here is some practical advice. That you may or may not remember at the end of the speech because, hey, that’s the gig.
One. First off, remove “proficient at Word” from your resume. That is ridiculous. You’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel of competency there. This is how you become proficient at Word. You open Word on your computer.
Two. Most of your post-college life is simply filling out forms. Car insurance, health insurance, W2s, W4s, 1099s. Guess what? None of us know what any of those forms mean but you will fill out 100 of them before you die.
Three. You never need more than one pancake. Trust me on this. Cartoons have trained us to want a giant stack of those bad boys, but order one first and then just see how you feel later.
This one is just for guys. When you go on dates, act as if every woman you’re talking to is a reporter for an online publication that you are scared of. One shouldn’t need the threat of public exposure and scorn to treat women well, but if that’s what it’s going to take, fine. Date like everyone’s watching, because we are.
Five, and this might be the most important. Buy a toilet plunger. Trust me on this, don’t wait until you need a plunger to buy a plunger.
Commencement is a time of transition for parents too. That empty nest you were enjoying these past four years? Gone as soon as the speech is over.
I hope you like full time lodgers who don’t pay rent, don’t do laundry, eat all the food in your fridge, and binge Family Guy on your sofa for weeks. That is your life now.
Although some of your graduates will be making more money than you. 51%, to be exact. And to the parents of those investment bankers, consultants, and hedge fund analysts, congratulations. Your kids will be fabulously wealthy but still somehow sharing your cell phone plan because it, quote, “saves everybody money.”
Okay, now let’s get real. Let me rip off the Band-Aid for all of you, the 18s. The next year of your life is going to be bad. You have been in the comfortable fleece-lined room of Mother Dartmouth for four years now and you’re going to go out in the cold, hard world.
Out there in the real world, there will be a target on your back. People will want to confirm their expectations of Ivy League graduates, that you’re a jerk, that you’re spoiled, that you use the word summer as a verb.
Though stereotypes exist for a reason. I mean, come on, the guy from the $10,000 bill went to this school. You’re graduating into a world where it seems like everything is falling apart. Trust in institutions are at a record low, the truth doesn’t seem to matter anymore, and for all I know the President just tweeted us into a war with Wakanda, a country that doesn’t exist.
So, class of 2018, you are entering a world that we have toppled – we have toppled like a Jenga tower and we are relying on you to rebuild it.