Because we didn’t get some famous person to tell us about how life looks after you graduate… I’m gonna do it! Why? Well, because I feel like it.
Consider this your commencement speech and prepare to be inspired AF.
When we all entered campus as a Freshmen the world was confusing, huge, impossible and a little scary. You may be like me and may have started your journey at a junior college or maybe you started somewhere else and transferred to where you’re now graduating from. The road we paint in our heads is never the road that we end up taking. God always has far more interesting plans. As we figured out where classes were and bought the most expensive books to ever exist - honestly pause… WHY do textbooks cost the same as a downpayment on a house? As if the tuition isn’t enough we have to give our professors bonuses by buying their boring books? Confused… but ok. Anyway, after the books were bought and we studied the upper class girls to see what the class outfit etiquette was, we dove in. For me, like probably for most of you, college is a blur. My road was filled with doors slamming, boots kicking me out and heaps of disappointment. What my freshman dreams pictured was not at all what God knew would be my path. I was angry, stressed out and constantly asked myself why I was even in college. Your experience might look similar, or you might be thinking ok thats sad my college life was a pool of parties, frat boys and libraries followed by being hungover for class. If this is your story, LIVE IT and embrace the past 4 (or 5 or 6) years that you get to add to your life’s scrapbook. The beautiful thing about college is that it looks so different for everyone. My story started at a small community college in San Ramon, California, then took me to doing college online from a full time nanny job in Scottsdale, Arizona, then brought me to the University of Kentucky where I got a real estate license, met some hot bouncer and got married before I even graduated.. WHAT!? Not at all what my little freshman brain had seen for myself when I began. We all have crazy stories, blacked out nights and have all said (at least 5 times) “I’m never drinking again.” So yes, we all have some things in common. If your college experience looked a lot different than you imagined it, welcome to the club sister.
In a zoom meeting in my capstone course THE HEAD OF OUR DEPARTMENT popped on to say a few” inspirational” words to us graduating seniors. I’ll spare you the details but these words were not inspirational in the least and really were a mix of terrifying that she leads a university department and I really hope no one seeks her out for advice. At one point she said… and I quote, “I won’t pretend I know what life is like in the real world. But I know people who do”.............................. Thank you so much.
So after seeing the faces of the other students and realizing they were either really good at holding in laughs (my camera was off and I was on mute dying laughing) or were actually taking this AWFUL advice. I realized I could and should write a commencement speech myself. I consider myself an old soul and I found my career before graduating so I’ll try my best to actually talk about the real world and I’ll try to be more inspiring than the head of my department.
Rules/Guidelines for your life:
1. People will tell you that “nothing comes easy” yet we live in a world where everything comes easy. We get the internet with two clicks of a button from a tiny flat computer that we carry in our hand. We can order anything online and have it by the grace of Amazon on our doorstep the next day. We want to talk to someone in another country, well hold on four seconds while I dial this annoying extra 2 numbers… etc.
Everything comes easy in life. Not everything is given easily.
Trust is a hard thing to come by. Integrity is a hard thing to come by. Good communication is near impossible to come by. Work ethic is not easy to come by.
What will make you stand out in a world of “nothing comes easy” is to show them that the hardest things to come by… come easy to YOU. Be a trustworthy human being, have integrity, always pick up your phone when someone calls, and be the hardest worker in the room. In a world where we have everything and anything at our fingertips, you will always be replaceable. Your job is to be irreplaceable, but you have to prove it.
As millennials we are entitled (blame the boomers), but y’all in the real world, you’re not entitled to anything. Not everyone gets a trophy, and not everyone gets a paycheck. So I beg you not to fit in, stand out, be irreplaceable and prove to them that you have, what no one else has - so go to work.
2. Be just a little bit annoying… why? Because everyone is offended all the time in our generation. Millennials grow up being told yes. Yes you can get the video game, yes you can get the latest iPhone, yes you can get the upgrade, yes you can have the car, yes you are special. Well, I hate to tell you this but you’re not special and people in the real world LOVE telling you no. It might honestly be the boomers form of entertainment.. Hey let me tell this millennial no and watch it freak tf out… I mean it is true. SO in a big big world full of nos, your job is to get a yes. This means a lot of disappointment and a lot of rejection. I look at it like a game. My theory is, if you can tell me no 99 times… on the 100th time, you’ll tell me yes. I strive for the no. You should too. If you want to work at your dream company, or be mentored by your idol, or get a record deal with a big producer or just get an interview at a job you think is impossible. I dare you to get 99 nos. Bet you can’t. People value consistency. But even more than that people value tenacity. If you really think you getting told 1 time is because they don’t want you.. Honey you’re wrong. You’re just not annoying enough.
Bob Goff didn’t get into Law School because his LSAT score was terrible. However, he knew the Dean of Admissions had the power to let him in. So he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office everyday and every time the Dean passed, Goff would say “All you have to do is tell me to go buy my books,” and every time the Dean would smile (eventually he started ignoring him) passing as Bob sat there. On day nine of Bob sitting on that bench the Dean walked around the corner, stopped, shot him a wink and said “Go buy your books.”
Bob Goff is now worth millions of dollars… a little annoying, goes a long way.
3. You’re not going to change the world right now. I’m SO sorry to be the one to break this news, it sucks. But fresh out of college, on your first big kid job, you’re not going to change the world. If we were sitting in rows in our cap and gowns I’d say never lose the feeling of what you feel right now - that feeling that anything is possible. Anything is possible, hold that fire in your heart and do not let your first corporate America job blow out that flame. You have the power to change the world, but this is a stepping stone. The best and worst thing about life is time. We want more time, but we want time to go by faster. When time comes, we wish we could go back and when we long for time to pass we wish we could reverse it. God intentionally makes you complete steps in life. He knows we ain’t ready to save the world yet. Eventually though… you will be. I am an expert at “fake it till ya make it” but you can’t fake saving the world. You’re going to need to know some stuff first, like do you even know how to do your taxes? You should probably figure that out. Also so sorry your thousands of dollars of tuition did not teach you that. But anyway… wanting to make an impact, wanting to be someone great, striving for success is all amazing. Never lose those wants and always be pushing for the next thing. But if you are in a season right now that feels useless. I PROMISE you God has a plan. And nowhere in the bible does it say that feeling useless means you are useless. Actually Isaiah 41:10 says
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
In a nutshell… chill. You will be great, a little bit of time is good, for one day very soon we will all look back and say remember when.
4. You’re gonna fail…. ALOT. As our universities kick us into the streets of real world chaos, I have some news. We are all going to fail SO many times. Like so many you guys. I hope that in every failure you learn one thing. One piece of advice that might save you one or two fails is DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING… ever. Like I said before, if you have to be annoying to insure that you don’t have to assume anything in the long run, be annoying. Assuming really makes an ass out of just U so don’t do it. While we do not get a foreshadow of what our lives are going to look like, I guarantee you that learning from your failures will launch you ahead of the rest. Don’t just learn from them, but admit them, own up to them and study them. Understanding why you do what you do will set you apart in a world full of sheep.
If I write much more I know you’ll stop reading, I mean for goodness sakes that’s all we’ve done the last few years… except me, never read a book in college, it’s my one greatest achievement. For how to pass college without reading a single book click the link below.. (kidding there is no link, just grateful for wikipedia, google and all my friends at quizlet)
Bottom line is this -
be a little bit ANNOYING.
be grateful for TIME.
FAIL a lot.
So as you go on your way, I challenge you to embrace every single experience that comes your way and know that God’s hand is in all of it. I ask that you don’t give credit to your university but rather to yourself, for showing up (sometimes) and putting in the work. College taught us all how to function on six cups of coffee and no sleep, what exactly our hangover food is and how to write a 20 page paper about a book… without reading the book. Really glad these skills will help us in the real world. Enjoy every single failure, and soak it in. And lastly CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2020!! And welcome to the real world.