Taylor Swift's NYU Speech Urges Class Of 2022 To 'Live Alongside Cringe'
Taylor Swift achieved her “Wildest Dreams” on Wednesday (May 18), receiving an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from New York University and walking onstage in a cap and gown for graduation at Yankee Stadium to deliver an inspiring speech to the Class of 2022.
“I’d like to thank NYU for making me technically, on paper at least, a doctor,” she said. “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.”
On her social media, she posted a video of herself getting ready for the commencement.
“I’m 90 percent sure the main reason I’m here is because I have a song called ‘22’,” she joked. Quite unfortunately, the speech turned out to extend a minute over the 22-minute mark. But she also could not resist extending a “Welcome to New York” to the entire audience. “It’s been waiting for you,” she said.
During her speech, she congratulated the graduates for their achievements. Although she never attended college, she empathized with the graduates’ unusual university experience during the global COVID-19 pandemic. “I imagine the idea of a normal college experience was all you wanted too,” she said. “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 service that is life.”
Having been in the public eye of fame since she was a teenager and understanding the fear of perfectionism and failure, the pop superstar reflected on her life and the lessons she learned. Normally, she doesn’t give unsolicited advice “unless asked for it,” but in this case, she gave solicited life hacks to the graduating class based on her experience “navigating life, love, pressure, choices, shame, hope and friendship.”
One piece of advice she gave is that “life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once” – and to be discerning. “Part of growing up and moving into new chapters of your life is about catch and release. What I mean by that is, knowing what things to keep, and what things to release,” Swift said. “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. Decide what is yours to hold and let the rest go.”
Another life hack? It's OK to “live alongside cringe” since it’s “unavoidable.” And Swift is a big advocate that one should not hide their enthusiasm for something. “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.’ That people who don’t try hard are fundamentally more chic than people who do,” she continued. “But I’m the one who’s up here, so you have to listen to me when I say this: Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth.”
At the same time, Swift drops a lot of harsh truths too. “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,” she said.
Despite all the media scrutiny, rumors and scandals throughout her career, she looks back and says that “mistakes led to the best things in my life.” “A lot of the time, when we lose things, we gain things too,” she continued. “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. Hard things will happen to us. We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it.”
And to conclude the heartfelt speech with a fitting bang: “Let’s just keep dancing like we’re the Class of ‘22.”
According to Rolling Stone, where you can also find a full transcript of Swift’s speech, the superstar was a subject to a half-semester course at NYU taught by the magazine’s staff writer, Brittany Spanos, in the Clive Davis Institute of Recording Music.
Since 2021, Swift has been re-recording her master recordings and studio albums that were released prior to her 2019 album Lover. So far, she has re-recorded and re-released Fearless and Red. It has yet to be confirmed what will follow, but on May 6, she re-released songs “This Love” and “Wildest Dreams,” leading fans to speculate 1989 may be next album. Recently, Swift dropped a brand new song, “Carolina,” which has been teased and featured in the trailer for the upcoming film Where the Crawdads Sing.