For years I have had an abnormal obsession with watching commencement speech videos on YouTube. The way Ellen Degeneres addressed Tulane by saying they didn’t need to go to college was priceless. And J.K. Rowling’s words or wizarding wisdom to the Harvard graduates struck my heart like a binding spell.
It should come as no surprise that I also have an abnormal goal of giving a commencement speech at my own alma matter. As the graduates walked the stage for another time this past Saturday, I thought of the amazing journey they are about to embark on. And how old I felt.
The invitation to speak was clearly lost in the mail, so until next years arrives, I would like to say a few words to those of you popping that university comfort bubble:
“Hello class of 2014, might I say you did it! You fought the ultimate hangover and made it to your graduation. Sitting here you feel no different than you did yesterday. I know because I was in your shoes not that long ago. But sitting here you are different, and things are about to change. You will move, you will leave friends, and gain things. Like the large stack of bills you father has been warming in his back pocket since his dress pants were fastened this morning.
Most of all, you will never be an undergrad again. Right now you are scared. Scared you will not find a job, or not find new friends. Scared that when you do find a job your life will be over, or that you won’t be able to afford that boat you always dreamed of. All of the sudden your childhood dream of becoming a singer or NBA star seems better than ever. Thinking to yourself ‘If I leave right now I can get to the court and be straight ballin’ for walk on tryouts.’ You are clinging on to the people around you, and if you are anything like me spending many nights crying on the floor to your mom.
I’m here to tell you the words you absolutely can’t stand to hear: Everything is going to be okay.
It doesn’t feel like it will be, but this is your time. You are so young, and the world is at your finger tips. Most of you have been set up for success and hardly even know it. But you have to be brave about it. Don’t settle for a job in your “Kind-of” field because you fear nothing else will come. Don’t feel bad about living at home. If your parents offer, take it. Cry when things get tough, and beg for answers when you feel like your life is crashing down around you.
We come from a generation of go getters, we need to step up to the plate.
So take these last moments as an undergrad and be thankful for the wonderful memories you made. Remember the professors who let you turn in assignments late, the friends you sat up with talking all night. Think of the first time you had to call your parents for more money, and know there is little shame in asking again. The worst they can say is no. Don’t be afraid to mess up, don’t sweat the money. Be willing to live inside your means, and remember at the end of the day there is always tomorrow. Find your goals and stick to them, you might not be exactly what you want to be right away, but life will always find where you try to hide.
Congratulations class of 2014, you did it. The fun has just begun!”
*Obviously this is the shorter version. Everyone knows a real commencement speech isn’t great unless its 45 minutes long.