August 28, 2012

There’s nothing recent college grads love more than to complain about how difficult life is after college, now that their life is complicated beyond the simple binary of “go to class” and “get drunk.” In fact, you will hear people muse aloud about how difficult it is to navigate the maze of adulthood so often that it feels like a Cameron Crowe movie sometimes. For anyone who knows that they’re responsible for some of those musings, and you happen to be around the age of 24, Susan Sontag has some advice for you.

Excellent collector of cultural odds and ends Brain Pickings posted this list from Susan Sontag’s Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963. Apparently right before Sontag turned 24 in January of 1957 she scribbled down the following list:

Rules + duties for being 24

1. Have better posture.
2. Write Mother 3 times a week.
3. Eat less.
4. Write two hours a day minimally
5. Never complain publicly about Brandeis [University] or money.
6. Teach [SS's toddler son] David to read.

Then later she added:


1. Criticize publicly anyone at Harvard –
2. Allude to your age (boastfully, mock-respectfully, or otherwise)
3. Talk about money
4. Talk about Brandeis

5. Shower every other night
6. Write Mother every other day

Okay, so maybe a lot of this doesn’t apply to you: by the time Sontag was 24 she was finishing up her graduate work at Harvard, had a kid, and was pretty much well on her way to being a big deal. But hey! Some of this is just generally good advice; don’t publicly criticize in your social set, don’t brag, write your mom, shower, stop eating so many Takis, spend at least two hours a day working on what you love, and have good posture. You know how you see old people who are all Quasimodo-looking and shit? It would be good to avoid that!

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