Taking the microphone, she began “Hi, I’m Taylor”, while the tens of thousands of new diplomats welcomed the singer at the New York Yankee Stadium, where the event was taking place.
In her 20-minute speech, Swift touched upon many important aspects, like the support students receive to succeed, how to get by in life, and how to accept failure. In typical fashion, Swift also took some time to poke fun at herself.
“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”, the 32-year-old said, adding, “I’m…90% 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 New York University’s Class of 2022.”
She also thanked the university for the doctorate degree, saying “I’d like to thank NYU for making me technically, on paper at least, a doctor. Not the type of doctor you would want around in the 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.”
Jumping into the life hacks, before prefacing humbly that Swift was in no position to give advice to the graduates who each had their own journeys and struggles, the singer started “life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once.”
Swift advised those gathered they should know what to hold on to, and what to let go of while moving between different chapters of life. “You can’t carry all things, all grudges, all updates on your ex, all enviable promotions your school bully got at the hedge fund his uncle started”, she said.
Suggesting that graduates should be “discerning”, Swift added, “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.”
Her second suggestion was that young people should learn to live “alongside cringe”. Swift noted, “No matter how hard you try to avoid being cringe, you will look back on your life and cringe retrospectively. Cringe is unavoidable over a lifetime. Even the term ‘cringe’ might someday be deemed ‘cringe.’”
Swift also encourages the NYU graduates to be enthusiastic. She said, “there is a false stigma around eagerness in our culture of ‘unbothered ambivalence.’” The singer stated, “Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth. The people who wanted it the least were the ones I wanted to date and be friends with in high school. The people who want it most are the people I now hire to work for my company.”
Acknowledging that she’s talking to perfectionists, since the group’s made of NYU graduates, Swift urged “mistakes led to the best things in my life.”
She added, “In your life, you will inevitably misspeak, trust the wrong people, under-react, overreact, hurt the people who didn’t deserve it, overthink, not think at all, self-sabotage, 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.”
Dwelling on the negatives, and the inevitable loss they’ll bring, the singer added “losing things doesn’t just mean losing”. She continued, “A lot of the time, when we lose things, we gain things too”.
Swift told the graduates that being on their own in life, and having to figure out a path for themselves is both the “cool” and “scary” news.
Urging students to stand up for themselves, and what’s right, Swift left them with the message, “We are led by our gut instincts, our intuition, our desires and fears, our scars and our dreams. And you will screw it up sometimes. So will I.”
She concluded, “We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it.”