I’ve never been asked to give a graduation speech. I don’t mind because a graduation speech is probably the most useless one anyone can give. You try to impart 5–7 minutes worth of wisdom (which the students should have been given over the past 18 years) at a time when people are the least inclined to hear it. People have parties to go to and pictures to take. Nobody cares what you have to say about “staying true to your dreams” or “becoming the leaders of tomorrow.”
So, what would I say to the graduating class of 2011?
Simply to enjoy the moment. You worked hard for it. You deserve it. You spent most of your life trying to live up to other people’s expectations. Today isn’t about them. Today is for you.
Tomorrow will be waiting for you. So will your challenges, sacrifices, and obligations. But you already know that. You have been planning for and probably dreading about your future long before you put on that cap and gown. You already know about college loan debt, the tight job market, and ongoing wars. You already know that one day, you will start a career and build a family. But that’s tomorrow.
Today, you can just celebrate your achievement, bask in all the congratulations, and wrap yourself in teary embraces. You can have that extra piece of cake, laugh at those corny inside jokes one more time, and play silly party games. We often spend too much time worrying about tomorrow that we fail to celebrate or even recognize what we’ve accomplished. Don’t make that mistake. Enjoy today.