Graduation Speech Posted May 13, 2024

You're getting veeeery hungry...

Let's be honest here... every grad ceremony is pretty much the same.

You have all these celebrities and politicians hitting the grad circuit for no other reason than to get paid for basically reciting their resume and stroking their ego. Their script always goes something like this:

    1. CLASS OF ( insert class year here )!! EVERYONE SAY WOOOOO!!!

    2. Thank you for having me, ( mentions those who have had a negligible impact on your life )!

    3. When I was your age... ( feel free to zone out or snap a photo of yourself using the puppy filter )

    4. You’re going to face challenges in the world today ( speech devolves into a spiel about their pet cause: environmentalism, Palestine, etc. ).

    5. But you can overcome them because… ( lists dozens of empty platitudes )

    6. Reprise of Step #1.

I say forgo all that. You might want to walk across the stage, but its simply not worth being held hostage in hundred-degree weather for hours upon end. Lord knows your school has taken enough out of your life already. Instead, celebrate your day on your own terms. In fact, take a whole week off. Or month even. Heck, take as much time as you need to appreciate everything you've done to get to this point in your life. Because this world is going to do its darndest to convince you that it was all a happy accident, and that “forever” is the only acceptable definition of success.

For example: I know someone who has published a few books before deciding that it wasn’t for them anymore. Ask yourself... does this make them a "failed writer"? Or how about when someone opens a nonprofit and does some good in their community before becoming bankrupt. Does that make it a "failed business"? In the sports world especially, any championships not directly related to a “dynasty” are considered to be lucky or fluke seasons.

But the problem is that sometimes… there is no problem. It’s possible for any given thing to end and still be good, as crazy as that may sound. You have studios like Disney and Marvel actively trying to figure out why fewer people are watching their films or what they may be doing wrong. But the reality is that most people out there had their fun with their franchises and have collectively decided to move on.

I used to think I was a "failed minister" or "failed Christian" because I've become rather dormant in the missions field. But that's not true. I've done all kinds of work -- probably more than many people could ever dream of -- and I'm still having a profound effect on people in the most unexpected places. I've also reached the point where doing graphic design feels like a chore and committing to anything audiovisual feels like a prison term. But that doesn't mean that I am a "failed artist" or "failed engineer"; I've created all kinds of things and have helped launch many organizations toward greater heights.

The fact of the matter is that everything must come to an end at some point. Maybe you will do what you love for the rest of your life. I sincerely wish you the best of luck with that. But there may come a day when your passions dry up. There may come a day when you're forced to let go of everything you think you know and go for broke. Take this time to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, because you will have considerably less time to do so when you're older... with a spouse, and kids, and actual responsibilities with all those horrible forms to fill out.

That day came for me one year ago when I was a borderline suicidal mess who didn't seem to have a prayer in any job, especially in the pizza industry. But you may be happy to know that I just won the Pizza Hut Pizza Championships at my store and got runner-up in the regionals. I'd say that's one heck of a turnaround and I very well might have found where I belong after all.


Having something end isn't always a bad thing. In fact, it can sometimes be the best thing to ever happen to you. Just remember that all the good things you have in your life are there because something else ended.

Or... as a "failed 90's band" once aptly put it... every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.


By the way, let me know when you're throwing your graduation party... that way I can totally not work and make all your pizzas possibly attend!

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