I just finished listening to the Commencement speech of Jon Lovett to Pitzer College. Now, don’t confuse him with 55-year old comedian Jon Lovitz. 30-year old wunderkind Jon Lovett was Obama’s and Hillary’s former speechwriter and was the Co-Creator and Head Writer of the recently cancelled NBC sitcom, “1600 Penn.” Anyway, it was pretty well spoken so take a listen here: http://www.upworthy.com/obamas-speechwriterstand-up-comedian-gives-a-graduation-speech-not-surprisingly-its-badass?c=bl3
Regardless, listening to it inspired me to pen my own words of advice because I cannot believe that it was 20 years ago that I was in the same “starting out” situation as these grads. Time seriously flies by. Since chances are pretty low that I’ll ever have the opportunity to give a speech like this myself, I thought I’d jot down my own insights (in case I ever do):
1. Do it Now
Your twenties and thirties are the time to make your mark, so be cognizant of this window. By the time you hit 40, chances are fairly high that you will be too tired to do it. Yes, you could be a late bloomer, but most likely, you will not have the same amount of energy, focus and drive that you have now. So like an athlete in his prime, go for your MBA or other graduate degree, travel the world, live in a big city, live abroad even, and/or create your successful start-up business. The window is short and time flies quickly before you know it. Now is the time.
2. Start Saving
Ever hear about the power of compounding? It’s no lie. If you put away money every month starting now, you will be AMAZED at how much you will have saved by the time you get older. Your future self will thank you. With money comes freedom. You’ll be happy you can say “eff you” to a thankless job and pursue your passion or other options because you don’t need that paycheck to sustain you.
3. Take Care of Your Body
You know that fantastic, in-shape body you have right now? Well, cherish it and take care of it. You only have one body and health is so important. Believe me when I say that health is your only true wealth. You will be sad when you can’t do things as quickly and agile as you do now because you’ve neglected to take care of your personal temple.
4. Cherish Your Friendships
The friendships you make now are precious so hold on to them. These friends know you during a more innocent time – before any heartaches, disappointments, betrayal, or sadness. I love my high school and college friends. They knew me then. They know me best now.
5. Don’t Worry About What People Think
I’m not saying be all renegade and dismiss other people’s valid advice, but don’t put too much stake on how you’re perceived. I have learned that even if you try to be kind, helpful, and generous, there will be people who won’t like you anyway. They could be jealous, they could have different values, or they could just be downright mean. Do your best, be your most authentic self, and then let it go.
6. Be a Comedian
Haha! But, seriously. I wish someone had given me this advice, but no one did so now I’m telling you. Be funny. Try to make others laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are powerful if you master this skill. People will always remember how they feel when they are around you and if you make them feel good, that’s one step ahead of any other.
7. Believe in the Power of Prayer
Now I know there are those that are not religious reading this, but since I’m Catholic-raised, it would be a disservice to not let you in on my biggest secret. Prayer works. I’ve seen it time and time again. But don’t expect to pray without any action on your end. You’ve got to do your part and then God will do His.
8. Finally, Don’t Let the World Make You Hard
Your life is going to take several twists and turns, and it may not lead to the path you are currently envisioning for yourself. Despite that, don’t let life make you bitter or sad or hopeless. Every day is a fresh start to do something new. As long as you are healthy and living, you still have boundless opportunities!
Good luck, new graduates. I am sincerely jealous of your youth and opportunity. You hold the reins to the world.
"We’re only taking turns holding this world. It’s how it’s always been. When you’re older, you will understand." - The Fray