The Best Thing I’ve Seen Today: A Couple Graduation Speech Excerpts

by rferron

“It’s May, which means it’s time once again for actors and writers and politicians and whatever Thomas Friedman is to hit the graduation circuit and hold senior classes hostage for hours and hours in 85-degree heat. These grad speeches are little more than TED talks in funny hats…”

FIRST GRADUATION SPEECH — You’re Fucked but You’re Free: A Message to the Class of 2013Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 4.18.36 PM

A few of my favorite lines:
“Don’t hang around your hometown just because your girlfriend and your dealer happen to be there. LEAVE. GO. Get the fuck out of there. The quickest path to dying is doing the same shit and hanging around with the same motherfuckers—family aside—day in and day out.”

“Some fucker on LinkedIn won’t help you find a cool job when you turn 30. You know who will? Seamus, the Irish drunk you wrestled with at 3 a.m. outside a bar in Queens.”

“You know where Steve Jobs’s first job was? At a stupid hippie apple orchard. Then he named his company Apple and BOOM! Billions. It’s all useful later on.”


In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn’t become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we’ve ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.

A few of my favorite lines:
“…Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”

“It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: “This is water.””This is water.”