Hello everyone. Thank you for letting me speak at your commencement. I’m glad I get to be the one who caps off your 4-9 years here at this University with some words of wisdom.
First of all new graduates this is a lot of bullshit to go through just to get a free meal at Applebee’s with your parents. Unless you are going to an Applebee’s 100 miles away from here don’t expect to be seated anytime this weekend. Everyone wants to go to Applebee’s with their parents, you would think after 4-9 years you would have realized this.
No this is pretty much a dumb day for all involved. I mean there are over a thousand people in this auditorium and you will get to shine for as long as it takes for the person to read your name. You’ll shake the hand of a person you’ve never met before but have heard good things. You’ll get your picture taken by a guy who will try to sell you that picture 3 months from now, and you’ll walk back to your seat and wonder how you can sneak out of here to beat traffic.
Yes a lot of this is pretty dumb. Some people will tell you that the reason we celebrate this occasion is because this is a tough accomplishment and that if it was easy everyone would do it. Well, sorry but 90% of the people who are older than you in this room have done this as well. Most of you wouldn’t have been able to go to this University if it hadn’t been for your parents both having a college degree. Not only that but as we sit here at this time there are thousands of other University’s with thousands of other students going through this process as well. So once again, this is kind of bullshit.
Your accomplishment might be great, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that great. You’ll be glowing with pride as you get your degree in the mail, but if you are like me you will not know where it is 5 years from now. You’ll think it’s with all of your other important office things and memorabilia, but in actuality it’s been under your floor mats in your car.
I have many life events that I would rank higher than this one. Catching a foul ball at a Big League game, growing a cool mustache for a play I was in, and hooking up with two different girls in one weekend just to name a few. Oh, and I’m sure getting married and having kids will usurp those when the time comes.
Now at this point you are probably thinking, “Seriously, my name does start with an A, I’m not getting out of here for another 3 hours; what is my plan?”
Some of you are thinking more realistically that this is a terrible way to commence your studies here. Well, let’s get to the real juice of this speech. Yes, this ceremony is bullshit, but a lot of the stuff you do in life is.
If you leave here today and you leave this place of higher learning with one thing is that you will have to go through a lot of bullshit you don’t want to, but someone out there is going to take notice, and sometimes that’s all it really takes. Some of you are here today doing this ceremony because you are the first in your family to graduate from college. Some of you are here because this is the culmination of a hard and trying adventure.
Just remember that after this, everything you do will seem like a large and elaborate ceremony. You will be faced with tasks and projects that seem stupid, but you’ll do them, and you’ll succeed and if you don’t take joy in it someone else will, which hopefully you will take joy in knowing that someone took joy in what you did.
We live in a world where we are constantly looking for self-affirmation. We need to know if a tweet we send is getting favorited or if it’s getting retweeted. We set up shots in Instagram in order to get people to repost it. We record everything in hopes that it goes viral and we can see success. But in the end don’t’ just look at what you are doing to make yourself happy, but what are you doing to make others happy.
So go forth and do the monotonous tasks, do the bland tasks and for heaven’s sake call your mom every once and a while. She worries about you now that you are heading into a really terrible job market.
That’s also not that true, every class hears that when they graduate. It’s said to weed out the people who have no optimism. But you do, so go and do something cool. Be great, and great will happen.