Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Graduation Speech

It occurred to me this morning that if I had continued at my previous job I would have had to write a graduation speech for this week.

This speech should be non-location-specific; it’s just as appropriate for my location as for anywhere else across America. So, never one to miss an occasion for speechifying, here’s what I really would want to say:

Friends, guests, and graduates, I’m here today to tell you five things no one else has the guts to say to you. Know I say none of these things out of malice but rather with an abundance of love and affection.

1. No one outside your immediate circle gives a royal rat’s ass about what you did in high school now. Congratulations, you have a diploma. You did volunteer work. You were third captain on the tiddlywinks team. You were an all-state basketball player. It’s all the same now. You graduated high school. Now what can you do?

2.       Most of you probably shouldn’t go to college. Oh, I don’t mean necessarily you, or you. But, most of the graduating class of 2014 nationwide. Go learn a trade. Start a business. Travel. Go sit on the beach. Do anything but go to college. There are too many people in college. Your degree will likely make you qualified to do absolutely nothing. Oh, sure, if you get a nursing degree or some other vocational degree. But, a liberal arts degree? A business degree? Good luck, and have fun with the crushing feeling of being thousands of dollars in debt with student loans.

3.       Get on the first thing smoking out of your hometown. There may be many reasons you want to stay, but none of them are likely good ones. Go figure out who you are, without your high school sweetheart or mom or dad or grandma telling you who you are and how you should be. Go have an adventure. Screw up, as responsibly as you can. Live. You’ll be waiting for your twentieth high school reunion before you know it.

4.       Your life will likely be nothing like what you think it will be. It will be better in some ways, much better in others, and worse in yet others. Your teenaged self wouldn’t recognize your future selves, and it probably wouldn’t like them. So, be flexible.

5.       The people who matter in your life will be an ever-changing cast of characters. Oh, sure, some constants will remain, but even many of the key players will change. That boyfriend or girlfriend of three years or three months or three weeks will likely not be forever yours. Your best friends will change, likely. And all of this is OK. We are always looking for permanence in this ever-changing world. You’ll be OK.

So, my dear people, go out, live life, make mistakes as responsibly as you can, don’t hold on to situations that are hopeless, hold on to the good and proven things, and remain hopeful. Hang in there. Roll Tide.