Taylor Swift’s 2022 New York University Commencement Speech.

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American singer-songwriter and 11-times Grammy Award Winner Taylor Swift delivered the commencement speech to the graduating students of New York University. Taylor was awarded an honorary doctorate degree wherein she spoke about embracing your struggles and owning your mistakes.

Taylor Swift’s 2022 New York University Commencement Speech Transcript:

Hi, I’m Taylor [Applause]

The last time I was in a stadium this size I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard this outfit is much more comfortable. I would like to say a huge thank you to NYU’s chairman of the board of trustees Bill Berkley and all the trustees and members of the board NYU’s President Andrew Hamilton, Provost Catherine Fleming, and the faculty and alumni here today who have made this day possible.

I feel so proud to share this day with my fellow honorees Susan Hockfield and Felix Matos
Rodriguez who humble me with the ways, they improve our world with their work as for me
I’m 90 percent sure the main reason I’m here is because I have a song called 22. And let me just say
I am elated to be here with you today as we celebrate and graduate from New York University’s class of 2022.

Not a single one of us here today has done it alone we are each a patchwork quilt of those who have loved us those who have believed in our futures those who showed us empathy and kindness
or told us the truth even when it wasn’t easy to hear those who told us we could do it when there was absolutely no proof of that someone read stories to you and taught you to dream and offered up some moral code of right and wrong for you to try and live by someone tried their best to explain every concept in this insanely complex world to the child that was you as you asked a bazillion questions like how does the moon work and why can we eat salad but not grass and maybe they didn’t do it perfectly no one ever can maybe they aren’t with us anymore in that case, I hope you’ll remember them today.

If they are in this stadium i hope you’ll find your own way to express your gratitude for all the
steps and missteps that have led us to this common destination.

I know that words are supposed to be my thing but I will never be able to find the words to thank my mom and dad, and my brother Austin for the sacrifices they made every day so I could go from
singing in coffee houses to standing up here with you all today because no words would ever be enough to all the incredible parents, family members, mentors, teachers, allies, friends, and loved ones here today who have supported these students in their pursuit of educational enrichment
let me say to you now welcome to new york it’s been waiting for you.

I’d like to thank NYU for making me technically on paper at least a doctor [Applause] not the type of doctor you would want around in case of an emergency unless your specific emergency was that
you desperately needed to hear a song with a catchy hook and an intensely cathartic bridge section or if your emergency was that you needed a person who can name over 50 breeds of cats in one minute. [Applause]

I never got to have a normal college experience per se. I went to public high school until 10th
grade and then finished my education doing homeschool work on the floors of airport terminals
then I went out on the road for a radio tour which sounds incredibly glamorous but in reality it consisted of rental car motels and my mom and I pretending to have loud mother-daughter fights with each other during boarding, so no one would want the empty seat between us on the southwest.

As a kid, I always thought I would go away to college imagining the posters I would hang on the wall of my freshman dorm. I even set the ending of my music video from my song love story at my fantasy imaginary college where I meet a male model reading a book on the grass and with one
single glance we realized we had been in love in our past lives which is exactly what you guys all
experienced at some point in the last four years right. [Applause]

But I really can’t complain about not having a normal college experience to you because you went to NYU during a global pandemic being essentially locked into your dorms and having to do classes over zoom. Everyone in college during normal times
stresses about test scores
but on top of that
you also had to pass like a thousand
kova tests
i imagine
the idea of a normal college experience
was all you wanted to
but in this case
you and i both learned that you don’t
always get all the things in the bag
that you selected from the menu
in the delivery surface that is life
you get what you get
and as
i would like to say to you
wholeheartedly you should be very proud
of what you’ve done with it
you leave new york university
and then go out into the world
searching what’s next and so will i


so as a rule
i try not to give anyone
unsolicited advice
unless they ask for it
i’ll go into this more later
i guess i have been officially solicited
in this situation to impart
whatever wisdom i might have
to tell you things that have helped me
so far in my life
please bear in mind that i in no way
feel qualified to tell you what to do
you’ve worked
and struggled and sacrificed and studied
and dreamed
your way here to dare
and so
you know what you’re doing
you’ll do things differently than i did
and for different reasons so i won’t
tell you what to do because no one likes
that i will however
give you some life hacks i wish i knew
when i was starting out my dreams of a
and navigating life
love pressure
hope and friendship
the first of which is
can be heavy
especially if you try to carry it all at
part of growing up
and moving into new chapters of your
is about catch and release
what i mean by that is
knowing what things to keep
and what things to release
you can’t carry all things
all grudges
all updates on your ex
enviable promotions your school bully
got at the hedge fund his uncle started

what is yours to hold
and let the rest go
oftentimes the good things in your life
are lighter anyway
so there’s more room for them
one toxic relationship
can outweigh so many wonderful simple
you get to pick
what your life has time and room for
be discerning
learn to live
no matter
how hard you try to avoid being cringe
you will
look back on your life
and cringe retrospectively

is unavoidable over a lifetime
even the term cringe might someday be
deemed cringe
i promise you
you’re probably doing or wearing
something right now
that you will look back on later and
find revolting and hilarious
you can’t avoid it so don’t try to
for example
i had a phase where for the entirety of
i dressed like a 1950s
but you know what i was having fun
trends and phases are fun
looking back and laughing is fun
and while we’re talking about things
that make us squirm but really shouldn’t
i’d like to say i’m a big
advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm
for things

it seems to me that there is a false
around eagerness
in our culture of unbothered
this outlook perpetuates the idea that
it’s not cool to want it
the people who don’t try are
fundamentally more chic than people who
and i wouldn’t know because i’ve been a
lot of things but i’ve never been an
expert on chic but i’m the one who’s up
here so you have to listen to me when i
say this
be ashamed
of trying
is a myth
the people who wanted it the least were
the ones i wanted to date and be friends
in high school
the people who want it the most
are the people i now hire to work for my

i write i started writing songs when i
was 12
and since then
it’s been the compass guiding my life
and in turn
my life guided my writing
everything i do
is just an extension of my writing
whether it’s directing videos or a short
creating the visuals for a tour
or standing on a stage performing
everything is connected
by my love of the craft
the thrill of working through ideas and
narrowing them down
and polishing it all up in the end
editing waking up in the middle of the
night throwing out the old idea because
you just thought of a new or better one
or a plot device that ties the whole
thing together
there’s a reason they call it a hook
sometimes a string of words
ensnares me and i can’t
focus on anything until it’s been
recorded or written down
as a songwriter i’ve never been able to
sit still or stay in one creative place
for too long
i’ve made and released 11 albums and in
the process i’ve switched genre from
to pop to alternative to folk
and this might sound like a very
line of discussion
but in a way
i really do think
we are all
and most of us
write in a different voice for different
you write
differently in your instagram stories
then you do your senior thesis
you send a different type of email to
your boss than you do your best friend
from home
we are all literary chameleons and i
think it’s fascinating
it’s just a continuation of the idea
that we are so many things all the time
i know it can be really overwhelming
figuring out who to be and when
who you are now
and how to act in order to get where you
want to go
i have some good news
it’s totally up to you
i have some terrifying news
it’s totally up to you
i said to you earlier that i don’t ever
offer advice
unless someone asked me for it and now
i’ll tell you why
as a person who started my very public
at the age of 15 it came with a price
and that price
was years
of unsolicited advice
being the youngest person in every room
for over a decade
that i was constantly being issued
from older members of the music industry
media interviewers executives and this
often presented itself
as thinly veiled warnings
see i was a teenager
at a time when our society was
absolutely obsessed with the idea
of having perfect
young female role models
it felt like every interview i did
included slight barbs by the interviewer
about me one day
running off the rails
and that meant a different thing
to every person who said it to me so
i became a young adult while being fed
the message
that if i didn’t make
any mistakes
all the children of america
would grow up to be perfect angels
however if i did slip up
the entire earth would fall off its axis
and it would be entirely my fault and i
would go to pop star jail
forever and ever
it was all centered around the idea
that mistakes
and ultimately
the loss
of any chance at a happy or rewarding
has not been my experience
my experience has been
that my mistakes
led to the best things in my life
being embarrassed when you mess up
is part of the human experience
getting back up
dusting yourself off
and seeing who still wants to hang out
with you afterward and laugh about it
that’s a gift
the times i was told no
or wasn’t included
wasn’t chosen didn’t win didn’t make the
looking back it really feels like those
were as important if not more crucial
than the moments i was told yes
not being invited
to the parties and sleepovers in my
made me feel hopelessly lonely
but because i felt alone
i would sit in my room and write the
songs that would get me
a ticket somewhere else
having label executives in nashville
tell me
that only 35 year old housewives
listened to country music
and there was no place for a 13 year old
on their roster
made me cry in the car on the way home
but then
i’d post my songs on my myspace
and yes myspace
and i would message with other teenagers
like me who loved country music but just
didn’t have anyone singing from their
having journalists write in-depth
oftentimes critical pieces about who
they perceive me to be
made me feel like i was living in some
weird simulation
but it also made me look inward
to learn about who i actually am
having the world treat my love life like
a spectator sport in which i lose every
single game
was not a great way to date in my teens
and twenties
but it taught me
to protect my private life fiercely
being publicly humiliated over and over
again at a young age was excruciatingly
but it forced me
to devalue the ridiculous notion
of minute by minute
ever fluctuating social relevance and

getting cancelled on the internet
and nearly losing my career
gave me an excellent knowledge of all
the types of wine
i know i sound
like a consummate optimist but i’m
really not
i lose perspective
all the time
just feels completely pointless
i know the pressure
of living your life through the lens of
perfectionism and i know that i’m
talking to a group of perfectionists
because you are here today
graduating from nyu
so this might be hard for you to hear
in your life
you will inevitably
trust the wrong person
under react
overreact hurt the people who didn’t
deserve it
not think at all
create a reality where only your
experience exists
ruin perfectly good moments for yourself
and others deny any wrongdoing
not take the steps to make it right feel
very guilty
let the guilt eat at you hit rock bottom
finally address the pain you caused try
to do better next time rinse repeat


and i’m not going to lie
these mistakes will cause you to lose
i’m trying to tell you
that losing things
doesn’t just mean losing
a lot of the time
when we lose things
we gain things too
now you leave the structure and
of school
and chart your own path
every choice you make leads to the next
choice which leads to the next and i
know it’s hard to know
which path to take
there will be times in life where you
need to stand up for yourself
times when the right thing is actually
to back down and apologize
times when the right thing is to fight
times when the right thing is to turn
and run
times to hold on with all you have
and times to let go with grace
sometimes the right thing to do is to
throw out the old schools of thought in
the name of progress and reform
sometimes the right thing to do is to
sit and listen to the wisdom of those
who have come before us
how will you know
what the right choice is in these
crucial moments
you won’t
how do i give advice to this many people
about their life choices
i won’t
the scary news is
you’re on your own now
but the cool news is
you’re on your own now

i leave you with this
we are led
by our gut instincts
our intuition
our desires and fears our scars and our
and you will screw it up sometimes
so will i and when i do you will most
likely read about it on the internet
anyway hard things will happen to us
we will recover
we will learn from it
we will grow more resilient because of
and as long as we are fortunate enough
to be breathing
we will breathe in
breathe through
breathe deep
and breathe out
and i am a doctor now so i know how
breathing works
i hope you know
how proud
i am
to share this day with you
we’re doing this together
so let’s just keep dancing like we’re
the class of 22.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile -info@lanredahunsi.com | lanre.dahunsi@gmail.com

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