I’ve never been asked to give a college commencement speech. Admittedly, this makes sense. Though a successful person by some measures, I’m not a movie star or professional athlete. I’m not a social justice warrior who identifies as a fruit bat. I didn’t transform a side hustle into a multi-billion-dollar internet company. And I never parlayed a leaked sex tape into on-line stardom.
However, if I were ever asked to impart a thimble full of wisdom to the next generation, this is what I’d say.
As I look upon this graduating class it occurs to me that you’re all…clueless. Completely clueless. You know nothing of life, the complexities of existence, or what it means to succeed and fail in the noble pursuits of love, art, career and charity. You know nothing…or at least as close to nothing as a human can get without being reclassified as a petrified moose dropping.
Despite all you’ve been through to get here, you’re still brand spanking new. And this, my friends, is an exciting perspective to have…. For once you lose your naivety it is gone forever.
So, embrace your newness. Be bold. Be daring. Charge unafraid into the big, cold, ugly world and steady yourself to hug and punch it out, often simultaneously.
Take a stand. Make your case. Ask tough questions and demand better answers. And if someone advises you to “act as if” or “fake it till you make it” punch them directly in the neckbone for that is the worst possible advice one could give. Newness is not a weakness. It’s a wondrous, quickly vanishing strength that lets you approach the complexities of the world with fresh eyes. Someday you’ll have the wisdom of experience, but for now, leverage the unbridled optimism of youth.
Make your mark. Make a difference. And whatever you choose to pursue, make the most of every day. The ride is fun, but far too quick. Hold on tight.
P.S. When this shit storm of COVID-19 is over, throw yourselves an epic graduation party… you deserve it.
Tim Toterhi is an author, career coach, CHRO, and speaker. But mostly he’s a husband, dad, teacher and student. Read more at www.TimToterhi.com