The Very Honest Graduation Speech You Won't Hear At Commencement
I’m not here to give you yet another lecture on "being the change you want to see in the world" or "following your heart and passions." I don’t need to waste your time talking about hard work or success or fighting for your beliefs.
You know all this already, and what you don’t, you can easily find on your friend’s Twitter feed. You wouldn’t be graduating if you didn’t have some passable level of determination and diligence.
I’m here to share with you the insights that I was looking for when I was 22, blowing bubbles in the risers atop the Big House and totally stoked about the festivities that lay ahead.
Surrounded by academia and brilliant energy, all we wanted was for someone to just keep it real and speak to us in the familiar tone we were accustomed to while inside the football stadium.
No one ever commends the moments you’ll actually remember. The animated clips that unknowingly shape who we are, not the ones in which we’re passively sitting back in a classroom.
No one ever recalls that classic time you and your buddies crossed the border into Canada to drink and gamble, only to lose all your money and barely make it back.
No one tells the stories of nights spent socializing in fraternity basements or hanging out on each other’s beds, which coincidentally also doubled as sofas, tables, desks, chairs, closets and, in worst case scenarios, toilets. And yet these are the salient memories that define college.
I’m here to tell you that your fooling around and shenanigans and lazy days were all worth it. Anyone can pick up a textbook and teach themselves facts, but not everyone can form genuine, emotional connections with other human beings. This is far more essential for both life and happiness.
You might think you’ve experienced the worst day of your life, but you haven’t. YOLO is a stupid excuse. Get off social media while you still can. And always wear your sunscreen.
I’m going to let you know something else, and for the overachievers and by-the-books people out there, this will sting: It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.
So often in this world, the wrong people get ahead not because they are sneaky, but because they knew the right people. This is just one of the many frustrations of the workplace.
And then there are the snotty or idiotic people who get ahead too in this world. You’ll never be able to prevent it from happening, so you can either waste your time feeling bitter about it or devise a better strategy for yourself.
Or, in rare circumstances, you can hire a hit man and take care of it via a third party.
Some more random thoughts: Funny tattoos are really funny… until they’re permanent... and aren’t anymore. Your true friends are the ones who can live it up on the bare necessities: a little bit of vodka and an iPod speaker.
Less clothing is not always more attractive. Buses aren’t so bad until you have to throw up on them. And if you think you’ve tried your share of drugs, well you haven’t. Reach for the stars!
You might not become that person you wanted to be and that’s okay as long as you don’t beat yourself up about it. And whatever you did to deserve that F, it was probably worth it even if you can’t see that now.
Plus, your major kind of means nothing unless you’re going to operate on my heart in 20 years.
Remember that everything in this world is a business and life is an investment. Your school will show no shame in hitting you up for money.
Public parks aren’t really free. And you will most likely accept an internship that doesn’t provide a paycheck and still costs you cash.
There’s a lot of hype and build-up around graduation, which is fitting because for most of you, you will never be this smart again.
Unless you are furthering your education, you are never going to feel this knowledgeable about random stuff. One fateful day you’ll stumble upon your old papers and think, “Wow, I was really living up to my full potential back there.”
Cherish this feeling like you are the most intelligent person in the room because once you graduate, you will have a whole lot to learn all over again.
Real Life is fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean there’s a reason to stop what you’ve been doing for the past four years. Granted you’re older, you’re not the same 18-year-old kid with bad fashion sense, but you can still hold your own with the best of them.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And, as they say, some things get better with age: your sex skills, your IDs, your spontaneity and your increasing freedom to do whatever the f*ck you want.
So let’s do it.
I love you guys -- let’s finish what we’ve started.
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