At this point, almost everyone knows Taylor Swift is a cultural icon: She’s a Grammy-award winning recording artist, a prolific singer-songwriter, a producer, a director, and now ... a doctor? On May 18, Swift donned a purple cap and gown to accept her honorary doctorate of fine arts from New York University, and to deliver a commencement speech to the university’s graduating class of 2022. Taylor Swift’s NYU commencement speech was cringe-y in the best way possible, and it includes some wholesome life advice about loving yourself — no matter how embarrassing you think you are.
Although Swift is one of the most celebrated artists in the music industry, she’s definitely had her fair share of cringe-worthy moments, and she’s not shy about bringing them up. “I promise you, you’re probably doing or wearing something right now that you will look back on later and find revolting and hilarious,” Swift said during her May 18 speech. “I had a phase where, for the entirety of 2012, I dressed like a 1950s housewife.”
Despite poking fun at herself, Swift highlighted how feeling embarrassed is overrated, and that going for what you want (even if it’s not very “cool”) is more important in the long run. “Learn to live alongside cringe. No matter how hard you try to avoid being cringe, you will look back on your life and cringe retrospectively. Cringe is unavoidable over a lifetime.” Wow, I wish someone was there to give me this kind of advice when I was 13.
Swift also came for necks when she called out the “false stigma around eagerness in our culture of ‘unbothered ambivalence’” — which is a very fancy way of saying, the culture of “cool.” Let’s be real: Almost everyone’s been in a situation where they’re scared of trying too hard, or afraid of geeking out over something they love, for fear of looking like a nerd. However, Swift encourages you to embrace your inner cringe-monster. This culture of “cool,” she states, “perpetuates the idea that it’s not cool to ‘want it.’ That people who don’t try hard are fundamentally more chic than people who do,” Swift said.
“Listen to me when I say this: Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth,” she added. “I’m a big advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm for things.” So according to Swift, it’s A-OK to scream-sing ‘“Love Story” at the top of your lungs at your friend’s house party — as long as you’re having a good time.