Jim Valvano said that there are three things everyone should do every day: laugh, think and be moved to tears. I’m a huge fan of graduation speeches, in part because the really great ones cover all three of those bases, with a healthy dose of motivation thrown in for good measure.
Graduates have heard some great commencement addresses this year, and I wanted to share three of my favorites. They’re good for both kids and their parents. They provide perspective and inspiration, both of which are beneficial at any age, mortar boards optional.
Below are links to the full speeches – really, they’re worth reading – and excerpts of portions that seemed particularly poignant. With each one, I found it challenging to select just a few paragraphs, so hopefully you’ll read the full text. As an added bonus, if you both read them, they serve as wonderful conversation starters.
Abby Wambach’s graduation speech at Barnard College was aimed at women but applicable to all:
As you go out into the world: Amplify each others’ voices. Demand seats for women, people of color and all marginalized people at every table where decisions are made. Call out each other’s wins and just like we do on the field: claim the success of one woman, as a collective success for all women.
Joy. Success. Power. These are not pies where a bigger slice for her means a smaller slice for you. These are infinite. In any revolution, the way to make something true starts with believing it is. Let’s claim infinite joy, success, and power—together.
I adored Kelly Corrigan’s book, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say, so it’s not surprising that I also loved her commencement address at a high school graduation in Piedmont, California was humorous and heartfelt (and what she says about parents at the end had me verklempt):
If the world is not very good at advertising what matters, it actually IS good at rewarding what matters. People are who are good at friendship always win, if winning = knowing the most love. I know you just threw up a little bit in your mouth but I have to tell you the truth and that is it. If you know how to love people with abandon and you know how to let people love you back, you will have a great life. That’s not my opinion. That’s not fake news. That’s what the research tells us.
The better you know yourself, the easier it will be to be really known, warts and all, by someone else. To the extent that you understand and accept and commit to yourself, you are much closer to being understood, accepted and committed to by someone else. And like I said, connection is the great reward in this life.
Sgt. Tim Cotton took to the Bangor Police Facebook Page to offer his thoughts on life, some deep and some funny and all honest, to the 2018 graduating class:
The people that you believe have perfect lives are sitting around this weekend thinking exactly like you are. It is a cruel joke which the human mind plays on all of us. No one has it perfect. No one has it all figured out. If someone says that they do, nod your head up and down and humor them -often those who say they have never been happier are not being entirely truthful. The power of positive thinking is actually a valid strategy to get through life. Don’t underestimate it, but don’t be afraid to ask for help.