Jimmy Buffett recently made his 71st trip around the sun, and with all those years comes immense wisdom on how to live life well. In his songs, he has placed hidden gems of advice and knowledge for all of us entering into the strange, uncharted territory of being an adult. As a recent college graduate (and Margaritaville University alum), I can say it has been equally exciting and terrifying to try and navigate the young adult world. Thank goodness Buffett is here to serve as a compass in our journey towards “adulting.”
“I’m just glad I don’t live in a trailer” (Son of a Son of a Sailor)
In your 20’s, most of us will not be fortunate enough to afford that beachfront condo in the tropics that we’ve had glued onto our vision board since high school. What is more likely is that you’ll be living with two roommates on the 5th floor of an elevator-less apartment with not a single piece of matching furniture.
It may not have central heating, but it’s walking distance to your favorite burger place. You may have to squash a cockroach in your living room every few days, but at least your roommates are there to give you moral support. Buffett reminds us that it’s okay to not live like a king, as long as you’ve got some of the more important things like good friends and a functioning fridge.
“Life short, call now” (Life Short Call Now)
We are now entering into a phase of our lives where all the people we love connecting with are no longer in our immediate vicinity. You go off to college and leave all your hometown friends and family behind. Then you’re in college making a whole new set of friends who then head their separate ways when summertime hits, or they jet off to study abroad for a semester or two. Then you graduate and you’re most likely now moving away from your hometown friends AND your college friends. The good thing is that your network of people has grown immensely, but with that comes the difficulty of staying in touch. Picking up the phone to call one of those friends is easy, but for some reason we make excuses with ourselves that we’re too busy or we’ll get to it next week. Buffett tells us that there’s no better time than now to pick up that phone to keep those relationships alive.
“First you learn the native customs” (Banana Republics)
Change is inevitable in young adult life. Geographically, you’re changing locations moving for a new job or heading off to college. Culturally, you’re heading into unknown territory with new social work environments and friend groups. Mentally, you’re on learning overload which may cause you to venture into uncharted intellectual territory. Whenever changes like these hit you, don’t fight it. Let the culture shock wave hit you and ride it out. Learn the social culture in your new job; do they have a fun restaurant they hit every Friday after work? You took a class that made you rethink your beliefs or future; how can you learn more about these new ideas to make them a part of your life? You’ve moved to a new city; where is the best place to snag a free yoga class or cheap brunch?
“When the big report card comes, your priorities are way out of line” (Summerzcool)
Every lyric from this song could be used in this article; this is basically Buffett’s song of advice for young adults. With so much academic and financial pressure that comes with going to college and starting off in entry level jobs, we prioritize seemingly “urgent” tasks above the things that are actually important. We get caught up in the “grind” and “hustle” of making money and networking, forgetting that mental health and building meaningful relationships are much more urgent in the grand scheme of things. It’s okay to not work overtime on Friday in order to hit happy hour with an old friend who’s in town. Cut your study time short by an hour to use the new bath bomb you bought and crack open the book that’s been sitting on your shelf for three months.
“It was something he should have done such a long time ago” (The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful)
Procrastination, need I say more? This may be one of the biggest struggles in college and soon thereafter. We all know intrinsically that it is always a better idea to get something done sooner rather than later, whether that be a work assignment, research paper, or social engagement. Yes, creativity and motivation can strike in the final hour of a deadline, but that is accompanied with stress, anxiety, and sometimes having to cancel plans with your friend to see that awesome free concert happening downtown. Get whatever it is done early, then use your free weekend to escape to the closest beach (and if there’s no beach close to you, a stress-free Netflix night can be just as good for the soul).
“Whether it’s big or small, if you have a passion at all, just say someday I will” (Someday I Will)
Don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to realize you should have pursued the things you love. There is so much pressure to chase a job that will make you a lot of money or give you stability, and out of fear of the unknown, it is an enticing option. Pursuing your passions is scary because it comes with risks, but the payoff is so much greater. Whether it’s playing the drums, making jewelry out of recycled material, or collecting rare Beanie Babies, if it makes your heart happy, you can’t let yourself to ignore it. Some passions won’t allow you to make a living out of them, but keep these passions written down and don’t forget about them. Take that class in astronomy even though it has nothing to do with your major. Quit your desk job to start your life coaching business. Whatever it is, make time for your passion, for your soul’s sake.
“The rear view mirror puts it all in scale” (Earl’s Dead- Cadillac for Sale)
Everything that happens to us right now seems like it will have a huge impact on the trajectory of our future; the pop quiz we just failed, the deadline we accidentally missed, the wedding we couldn’t make it to. It is easy to beat ourselves up over these things because they all seem to be “make or break” at this point in our lives. As a young adult myself, I stress about every decision I make that could pertain to my future.
But I also look back at myself in high school stressing just as much about these things that I now view as insignificant. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your hardest to not fail that pop quiz or stay up to make that deadline, but life happens and can throw a wrench in things. These things do not define you. It may take a couple of extra meetings with the boss or an extensive extra credit project, but you will end up back on track. Buffett reminds us that when we look back, that bad grade will be insignificant, but the dinner party you went to instead of stressing out about it will mean much more.
These are only a select few nuggets of wisdom Buffett has put in his lyrics to help guide us through our young adult lives. But I think he put it best in a song off his 1981 album Coconut Telegraph, we are growing older but not up. We are maturing and gaining more responsibility while still clinging to that childlike sense of play that gets us excited to keep moving forward. Fins up and adult on!
Brooke Benson is a graduate of East Carolina University and is Margaritaville University Alumna. Learn more about Margaritaville University here.