What is a year? A year is what it takes for you to go a long way and end up back where you started, changed. It has been a year. It is spring.

Last year, 2014, was the first I can recall without a May. The month passed silently—no milestone, no ceremony. But my sophomore year in New York City feels surprisingly sophomoric. There is an eerie rhythm and consonance plucked from the cacophony.

Two years out, you begin to forget. Coming to understand something in practice can destroy your ability to explain it, so as postgrad life normalizes it becomes indescribable.

To write another sappy reminiscence for the college paper is in some sense an admission of defeat: have I learned nothing? Let it go! So, we’ll circle back to the big life questions, but first I just want to touch base about learning to love your employer. Soon-to-be grads may initially chafe; I sure did! But I have tried to empathize with the corporation, and would like to share with you a few handy tips (which, like much advice dispensed, is largely a catalogue of my failures).

One. Although the language of the office sounds very familiar, it is more useful to treat it as a distinct derivative. The Standard Written English you have been taught in the classroom is not actually the dominant dialect of late capitalism. Corporatese has all the artfulness of an electrical signal between neurons, because that is roughly what it is. When a manager says “Are we all happy with this?”, the literal meaning of those phonemes in that language is closer to “Can we end this meeting?”, to which the answer should always be a resounding yes.

Two. Meetings expand to fill available time and space, so maintain a high quotient of people who don’t want to be there. If they evaporate away like energetic particles from hot tea, the temperature in the room will drop and the proceedings will slow. The meat is not in the meeting; it is a set-up for more substantive conversations to come.

Three. Insofar as industrial society is a doomed experiment and a joke, your managers are in on the joke. The good ones, anyway, are fully aware of all the profound problematicals. The libarts intellectual colliding with reality exudes feckless impotence: totally correct and still at a loss for what to do. The good manager is a step ahead of you, not behind. They have learned that a fish always thinking of water is apt to hyperventilate.

Four. Workplace commiseration is a bonding agent used by the status quo to deaden you; complaining about your company is not nearly as subversive as mirthfully running circles around it. Some of the most habitual complainers are among the most co-opted tools of the system. Resist assimilation not by negative displays of protest, but by positive displays of humanity.

Five. The corporation is glacial: slow, but massive. If you only watch the speed, you won’t appreciate how it carves the territory beneath. Use its momentum while you dance in the crevasses.

Six. In a healthy relationship, you should be using the corporation, just as it is using you. If the relationship is abusive, not only will you be miserable, but the corporation will suffer endemic ossification.

Seven. “Take professors, not classes”—so choose your bosses and coworkers. If you are lucky, you will get to do good work with idols. But you may also realize that even those who give off the most light and heat offer no salvation. You may notice a new kind of hero, quiet and content. What do you really want? It itches.

For all that, you’ll go from paying to earning; by selling your daily labor, you buy the freedom to shape and tend to a life. You can model some of your landscaping on the world President Mills has overseen. Nouns for things you’ve attended will become verbs to perform: you must orient, you must convoke, you must commence. The curricle (that’s a chariot) will run off the curriculum (a racecourse, originally) unless you lay one down. The most satisfying things in my life today are nascent frameworks for sustaining events and people: peer meetups, apartment lecture series, book clubs, workday morning soccer.

It won’t be the same. Noncommittal diversification gives way to smart concentrated bets; as Stanley Druckenmiller says, “put all your eggs in one basket and watch the basket very carefully.” Like holding cash, holding your time totally liquid is expensive. So people begin to settle where they lie—with careers, and with people.

As they do, and as our time in Brunswick gets harder to recapture, it feels unfair that the blessings of life are so frontloaded; the young have so much already, and on top of that we give them college?

There aren’t many kids around in Manhattan, but when you see the gaggle of giggling schoolchildren erupt against the backdrop of the two hundredth gray commute by 2nd Ave. sidewalk or subway car, you begin to get a hint, a sneaking suspicion. They look happy. If you can’t recapture, can you recapitulate?

Why do you exist?

Of the many humbling realizations of young adulthood, none is so serious as that you were not made for your own sake. On the horizon, the circle closes. Have you not gotten enough college? Good! That’s why you got any. Bowdoin plants the yearning for Bowdoin, and you are begotten of yearning; if we were sated it would cease. A satisfied life is sterile.

Your youth was a gift to you, but also an escape and a rebellion for your parents; work pays for and provokes rebirth, the first job. All of you are graduating with a tremendous outstanding debt: to create, to understand your creation, and thus to redeem. Forge dense new stars.

The past has the air of necessity, for it must have gone just so to lead to you. But as it unfolds you come to see the now-necessary past as a once-contingent future: it just as well could have been otherwise. Constants in your life turn variable; people come in and out like planks in the ship of Theseus, so that by the end nothing original remains except, somehow, identity—which finally dissolves triumphant into the memories of those who owe you everything.

Your parents need you. Hug them at graduation, or their parents, or whomever lives. Tell them what fun you’ve had. They’ve worked hard for you, and the best years of your life brighten theirs.

Toph Tucker is a member of the Class of 2012.