Graduation happened this week. Hundreds of students walked across a stage, moved a tassel and were magically bestowed with the maturity, knowledge and confidence to be functional adults, at least in the eyes of the law.

Those newly minted adults are faced with daunting choices and everyone has a piece of advice for graduates. Here’s mine: get the hell out. Run. Flee what you know and rush headlong into the unknown because the person you could be, should be, can be, can only grow out of new experiences.

I’m not saying that Santa Monica is a terrible place, far from it. I’m on the record declaring that it’s awesome here. However, as a young graduate you don’t have the experience to put this place in context yet and it’s entirely possible you may find it’s not the place for you, or at least, not the place for the you that will be.

Going somewhere new is great, but I know that’s not an option for everyone. I’m a professional writer, so I’m well aware of the constraints money places on our options, but you can still expand your horizons, even if your actual view doesn’t change. This county, more than almost anywhere else in the world, houses a near complete record of human emotion, opinion, language and experience. If you know the beach scene back to front, spend some time in Downtown LA or find a new favorite haunt in Koreatown. The O.C. and inland empire are as close as a bus geographically but can be as divergent as a foreign country.

Friends and family are an important part of a well-rounded individual, but expanding that circle can be as mind-blowing as a cross-country expedition. Find people that your parents hate, that you disagree with, that you would have never talked to in high school and grab coffee (or tea if you’ve always done coffee). See why they are who they are. Seek out experiences beyond just “new” and try things that you don’t think you like. Then try them again in different company or at a different time. Don’t take anyone’s word for the value of an experience when you can have that experience for yourself.

That kind of life doesn’t, and can’t, last forever and you’ll continue to evolve. Eventually you might want to return here, or to somewhere like here and that’s great, but now isn’t the time to settle, now isn’t the time to plant roots. Now is the time to run – fast, far and free.

 matt@smdp.com
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