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Last night I sat down to write out several graduation cards for neighbors and friends. As I thought through what I would say, I was flooded with memories and lessons learned that I somehow wanted to impart in just two sides of a card.

At this time two years ago, I was preparing for my college graduation, picking out my Lilly dress, finishing finals and making plans for my upcoming move to D.C. SO much has happened since then that I could never have imagined, which I suppose is a good thing.

Upon reflection, here are some of the key lessons I’ve learned:

Know who you are outside of work. I could never have imagined that six months into my incredible job at CMD, I would wake up one morning keeled over with abdominal pain and that this pain would only progress, forcing me to resign my position and leaving me housebound for almost a year. I had spent so munch time and energy pouring into my career that once this was stripped away, I didn’t know who I was. So much of my identity was wrapped up in my career. This I have learned is incredibly dangerous. My health crisis forced me to examine my priorities. It is important that I work to live, not live to work. I think having friends and hobbies outside of work is a key component to this.

You will have many jobs, but you will only have one body and one family. Who cares if you have the most impressive job, but you haven’t seen your family in over a year? In this early stage of building your career it’s easy to focus all your time and energy on your career. Most people will expect this of you, but don’t throw balance out the window. Remember to take care of yourself. Go for a walk on your lunch break, hike with friends over the weekend or practice yoga. Nothing should come before your health or your family.

Be patient with yourself. After four years in college, you’ll graduate thinking, “I’ve got this! Bring it on!” In college you may have been an A student, but in your first job, don’t be surprised if you receive work back with so many red edits that you can barely see the page. Be a good listener and do your best not to make the same mistakes twice. Put your very best effort into each and every task. That’s all any employer could ask for.

Congratulations to all the graduates this year!