Pop superstar Taylor Swift delivered the commencement address at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) before the graduates of New York University (NYU), which gave her an honorary doctorate degree in fine arts.
The 32-year-old Grammy winner began her speech by telling her fellow graduates that none of them at that graduation was able to do it alone.
She said they are all “a patchwork quilt” of the people who loved and believed in them through the years. As such, Swift urged the graduates to remember them on that momentous occasion and find their “own way to express your gratitude for all the steps and missteps that have led us to this common destination.”
Swift also lauded the graduates for not backing down on the challenge of finishing their studies even during a global pandemic.
Emphasizing she is not in a place to tell them what to do, Swift opted to share instead some life hacks she wished she knew when she was just starting out. The first of which is that life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once.
“Decide 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 joys. You get to pick what your life has time and room for. Be discerning,” she said.
Swift also told the graduates to “learn to live alongside cringe.”
“I’m a big advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm for things. It seems to me that there is a false stigma around eagerness in our culture of ‘unbothered ambivalence.’ This outlook perpetuates the idea that it’s not cool to ‘want it…’ Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth.”
While acknowledging that it can be really overwhelming to figure out what one wants to do and become in this life, Swift said: “I have some good news: It’s totally up to you. I also have some terrifying news: It’s totally up to you.”
Towards the latter part of her address, Swift stressed that losing things doesn’t just mean losing.
“A lot of the time, when we lose things, we gain things too,” she said.
“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. Scary news is: You’re on your own now. Cool news is: You’re on your own now.”
What’s important, Swift said, is how each of them are led by their gut instincts, their intuition, their desires and fears, their scars and dreams.
“Hard things will happen to us. We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it. As long as we are fortunate enough to be breathing, we will breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out,” she said.