Taylor Swift’s Commencement Message: My Mistakes Led Me to the Best Things in My Life

From a Wall Street Journal story by Joseph Pisani headlined “Taylor Swift’s Message to NYU’s Class of 2022: ‘My Mistakes Led Me to the Best Things in My Life”:

Taylor Swift is a doctor now. On paper, at least.

New York University gave the pop superstar an honorary doctoral degree in fine arts, giving the 32-year-old a chance to impart wisdom to the class of 2022 during a commencement speech at Yankee Stadium.

She opened the 20-minute speech with an introduction: “Hi, I’m Taylor.”

Ms. Swift joked she wasn’t the type of doctor you would want around in an emergency, “unless your specific emergency was that you desperately needed to hear a song with a catchy hook.”

She wore an NYU cap and gown, which Ms. Swift said was more comfortable than the glittery leotards and heels she usually wears at stadium shows.

The honorary degree is a first for Ms. Swift, who didn’t go to college. She launched her music career as a teenager, going on to become one of the world’s bestselling singer-songwriters.

Ms. Swift said she didn’t feel qualified to give advice. So instead she gave the graduates what she called “life hacks.” Among them:

Let Grudges Go

Decide what moments you want to hold on to. “The good things in your life are lighter anyway, so there’s more room for them,” she said. “One toxic relationship can outweigh so many wonderful, simple joys.”

You’ll Do Cringey Stuff

That’s OK. “Cringe is unavoidable,” she said. “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.”

Don’t Hide Enthusiasm

She said there is a stigma against eagerness. People who don’t try are seen as more chic. She disagrees: ”Never be afraid of trying.”

Mistakes Aren’t Failures 

“My mistakes led to the best things in my life,” she said, later adding: “getting back up, dusting yourself off, and seeing who still wants to hang out with you afterward and laugh about it—that’s a gift.”

NYU announced in March it was giving Ms. Swift the honorary degree because she’s “one of the most prolific and celebrated artists of her generation.” Past recipients include the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin and music producer Pharrell Williams.

Ms. Swift joked Wednesday she was “90% sure” she was chosen to speak to the class of 2022 because she has a song named “22.” (When NYU announced Ms. Swift would be the commencement speaker, it posted videos online with the song.)

Ms. Swift has won 11 Grammys and shaken up the music industry. When ownership of her songs landed in someone else’s hands, she found a loophole and started rerecording her older albums, labeling them “Taylor’s Version,” ensuring revenue from those streams go to her. The move caused her record label Universal Music Group NV to create new standards to make sure other artists didn’t follow suit.

NYU recently held a class about Ms. Swift, where 20 students spent two months studying the musician’s career, songwriting style and her impact on the music industry. Many of the students were Swifties, the nickname given to Ms. Swift’s biggest fans.

She told the graduating class to breathe.

“I am a doctor now,” she said, “so I know how breathing works.”

Ms. Swift ended the speech by reworking the lyrics of her song: “Let’s just keep dancing, like we’re the class of ‘22.”

Then she blew a kiss to the crowd and sat down.

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