Taylor Swift shared a video on Instagram today (May 18) getting ready to receive her honorary doctorate and to give her commencement speech for the class of 2022 at NYU.
“Wearing a cap and gown for the very first time,” Swift wrote in her caption. Beneath her traditional purple-hued gown, the 32-year-old “Wildest Dreams” singer wore a little black dress and leopard-print pumps.
Swift received a Doctor of Fine Arts from the university, which hailed her as “one of the most prolific and celebrated artists of her generation” in a press release shared in March. It’ll mark the Grammy winner’s first degree, as she was already writing hits and heading out on tour by the time she graduated high school.
Taylor took the stage and offered words of thanks to the class of 2022: “I know that words are supposed to be my ‘thing,’ but I will never be able to find the words to thank my mom and my dad, and my brother, Austin, for the sacrifices they made every day so that I could go from singing in coffee houses to standing up here with you all today because no words would ever be enough. To all the incredible parents, family members, mentors, teachers, allies, friends and loved ones here today who have supported these students in their pursuit of educational enrichment, let me say to you now: Welcome to New York. It’s been waiting for you.”
Firmly stating that she hates giving unsolicited advice, the Grammy-winner said, “I will, however, give you some life hacks I wish I knew when I was starting out my dreams of a career, and navigating life, love, pressure, choices, shame, hope and friendship. The first of which is… life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once. 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. 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. 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. Be discerning.”
She continued, “Secondly, learn to live alongside cringe. 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.’ I promise you, you’re probably doing or wearing something right now that you will look back on later and find revolting and hilarious. You can’t avoid it, so don’t try to. For example, I had a phase where, for the entirety of 2012, I dressed like a 1950s housewife. But you know what? I was having fun. Trends and phases are fun. Looking back and laughing is fun. And while we’re talking about things that make us squirm but really shouldn’t, I’d like to say that I’m a big advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm for things. 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. And I wouldn’t know because I have been a lot of things but I’ve never been an expert on ‘chic.’ 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. 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.”
In concluding her speech, Swift left the graduates with this: “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. And when I do, you will most likely read about on the internet. Anyway… hard things will happen to us. We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it. As long as we are fortunate enough to be breathing, we will breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out. And I’m a doctor now, so I know how breathing works. I hope you know how proud I am to share this day with you. We’re doing this together. So let’s just keep dancing like we’re… The class of 22.”
Watch Taylor Swift’s NYU Commencement speech below:
She’s one of two special speakers slated to appear at NYU’s graduation festivities. On Wednesday evening the school will hold an additional ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021 — both of which were postponed due to pandemic-related restrictions — with disability rights advocate Judith Heumann addressing the grads and receiving a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.