4 lessons from the musical for upcoming grads
Whether it’s high school or college, graduating comes with a lot of uncertainty. It’s a time in life when it’s easy to over-think every action or decision, playing out all of the possibilities and “what if” scenarios. As I prepare to graduate college this May, I’m starting to feel the pressure of this uncertainty weighing down on me. It comes and goes but to some extent it’s always in the back of my mind, every little decision nagging at me about the importance it could have on my future.
But the truth is that every decision you make in life feels this way, no matter how old you are. If/Then is the story of Elizabeth, a woman who moves back to New York City for a fresh start after her divorce back in Phoenix. It follows how one small decision in a park changes everything about her life. We then follow the story of Liz and Beth, the two different paths her life takes based on this one moment. These are the lessons, and accompanying songs, which recent grads can learn from, or at the very least remind themselves of:
1. Shit happens, roll with it
Always Starting Over –Idina Menzel
Liz and Beth both have a lot of shit during their life’s. There are things that happen that we can’t control, and at some level you have to be okay with that. The ability to roll with the punches is incredibly important and learning to do so with the little things in life is the only way that you can handle it when the big things come around. There’s a lot of truth in what both paths of Elizabeth’s life realize: every day really is a chance to start over. And while that ultimately makes our goals these ever moving targets, that’s okay. All we can do is make little corrections to our course as we go along, trying to make our life a little bit better than it was the day before.
2. You’re gonna wonder what the hell you were thinking
What the F*ck? –Idina Menzel
In addition to being one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in a musical, it seems to sum a good chunk of the college experience. There are a countless number of nights, and days for that matter, that you just don’t know what you were thinking. This song shows that these experiences, and that feeling, aren’t going away when you graduate.
3. You can’t get everything you want
You Learn to Live Without — Idina Menzel
The reality is that the number of experiences you can have is limited by your other experiences. We only get a chance to experience so many things before running out of time. It hard to tell someone who is looking forward to the future that they won’t accomplish everything they want to, but I think it’s more dishonest to tell them that everything they want to accomplish they can. They just won’t. Whether it’s not having the money, the support, or the time, something limits us from accomplishing everything we want to. And if you’re thinking, “Well I only want these one or two things”, trust me that once you get those, you’re going to want something else. And if you lose that sense of wanting something else, the need to strive for something more, that’s the hardest life there is. That’s a life without aspirations or hope.
4. Don’t Waste your Time
No More Wasted Time –LaChnze, Jenn Colella, Tamika Lawrence, Idina Menzel
Time is the one asset we’re all running out and don’t know how much we have left. I think the title of the song speaks for itself on this one. Just make the most of what time you have, it seriously helps to limit regrets.
It can feel like every decision is a life-altering one because the truth is that at some level they are. All we can do is be ready for the opportunities that present themselves, and then make the most of them when they come along. So trust your gut….or take a risk and don’t. Either way, do what feels right in the moment and don’t torment your mind with if/then scenarios.