Graduation Speech Good Time Posted May 22, 2022

Can you see me in this picture?

I really thought that I was going to change the world when I walked across the stage over ten years ago.

It’s easy to believe that after being around relatively smart and open-minded human beings. But there’s only, like, three people ever per graduating class who really believe they can pull it off, and they're the ones who spent all their years living in lofty housing and joining foreign language clubs.

For the rest of you, your first job isn't going to be as cool as Google or Pixar. Your first company probably won't even feed you for free or allow you to spend twenty-percent of the day looking at memes. Instead, you’re probably going be at some law firm where questionable business practices happen anyway. They might promise to support you through learning opportunities and career advancement, but that usually comes after agreeing to do the work of, like, three other people and working overtime an awful lot. You start to compromise virtually everything else about your life, only to soon realize you won’t save any time no matter how many cut corners or phoned-in efforts you make. That’s when you kick back, play a game of Wordle, and become resigned to your fate. You might be given some decent assignments after five or ten years, but you'll be so cynical and jaded that you'll end up taking it all for granted. Despite your best efforts, the world will remain unchanged.

THE END. Roll credits.


Alright. You want a different ending? Then listen up!

Whatever you’re good at, lock on to it and be relentless about improving it. It is your best chance at success. Entering the workforce early is suicide; Don't get a job unless if you absolutely have to. Cherish your parents or roommates while you still can, because you will have a lot more responsibilities and a lot less time to waste as you get older. But most importantly, don’t try to change the world. Instead, let the world change you.

Don't try to overinflate your LinkedIn profile or whatever you kids are using these days. That’s not networking. You want to know who will help get you exposure? Jeri, the girl who loved your Freddie Mercury impersonation in front of an Akron bar at 2AM. Turns out she’s also in a band and is willing to let you be in her music video shoot. NICE. Or you could volunteer at a food bank and share your life story with someone who happens to know a book agent. Or you could bump into your future spouse at a concert and make a connection as both of you are waiting for hours for the parking lot to finally clear up. The point is – all these interactions matter. It’s all the seemingly unrelated stuff that has a way of eventually connecting.

Eddie Murphy became a successful comedian by spending his childhood listening to Richard Pryor tapes in his basement. Quentin Tarantino became one of the best movie directors simply by watching movies all day long. Steve Jobs found inspiration for his company’s name from all the time he spent at an orchard. These people didn’t have to pay their dues or prove their worth for their light to come on.

My light hasn’t come on yet, and I cannot guarantee it will for any of you either. But don't strain yourself trying to live a monumental life, because it will be monumental regardless of what happens. We will all experience disease and despair. Joy and triumph. Love. Addiction. And yes, even death. Many of you will eventually come to accept this, but a few of you will take comfort and learn to use the world as you see fit. Getting great at something – whatever it is – isn’t simply a means to an end; It is the end. It’s going out knowing that you didn’t sell yourself short or had lived someone else’s dream.

How about now?

Now learn to park!


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