Taylor Swift gives inspiring NYU commencement speech: ‘Mistakes led to the best things in my life’

Taylor Swift speaks after receiving her Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts during the New York University (NYU) graduation ceremony on May 18, 2022

Taylor Swift speaks after receiving her Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts during the New York University (NYU) graduation ceremony on May 18, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

Introducing Dr. Taylor Alison Swift!

Swift became a trending topic on Wednesday as the 32-year-old singer received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa) from New York University as part of the school’s 2022 graduating class.

“I’m 90% sure the main reason I’m here is because I have a song called ’22,'” Swift joked on stage.

The Grammy winner gave a commencement address at Yankee Stadium and received a warm welcome from the crowd. Although she’s not one to give “unsolicited advice,” Swift decided to share with students “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.”

She continued: “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 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,” she shared. “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.”

Swift encouraged students to “live alongside cringe” as “cringe is unavoidable over a lifetime.”

“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,” she joked.

“I know it can be really overwhelming figuring out who to be, and when. Who you are now and how to act in order to get where you want to go. I have some good news: It’s totally up to you. I also have some terrifying news: It’s totally up to you,” Swift continued.

Swift stressed she doesn’t like to offer “unsolicited advice” as it’s all she received when she started her career at age 15.

“Being the youngest person in every room for over a decade meant that I was constantly being issued warnings from older members of the music industry, the media, interviewers, executives. This advice often presented itself as thinly veiled warnings,” she explained, adding , “I became a young adult while being fed the message that if I didn’t make any mistakes, all the children of America would grow up to be perfect angels. However, if I did slip up, the entire earth would fall off its axis and it would be entirely my fault and I would go to pop star jail forever and ever. It was all centered around the idea that mistakes equal failure and ultimately, the loss of any chance at a happy or rewarding life.”

Swift has found that’s not the case in that “mistakes led to the best things in my life.”

“Having the world treat my love life like a spectator sport in which I lose every single game was not a great way to date in my teens and 20s, but it taught me to protect my private life fiercely,” she shared. That’s evident in how private Swift keeps her relationship with her boyfriend (or maybe fiancé) Joe Alwyn.

“Being publicly humiliated over and over again at a young age was excruciatingly painful but it forced me to devalue the ridiculous notion of minute by minute, ever-fluctuating social relevance and likability. Getting canceled on the internet and nearly losing my career gave me an excellent knowledge of all the types of wine,” she quipped, likely alluding to her 2016 drama with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Swift said that despite sounding “like a consummate optimist,” she’s not: “I lose perspective all the time. Sometimes everything just feels completely pointless.”

“And so this may be hard for you to hear: In your life, you will inevitably misspeak, trust the wrong people, under-react, overreact, hurt the people who didn’t deserve it, overthink, not think at all, self -sabotage, create a reality where only your experience exists, ruin perfectly good moments for yourself and others, deny any wrongdoing, not take the steps to make it right, feel very guilty, let the guilt eat at you, hit rock bottom, finally address the pain you caused, try to do better next time, rinse, repeat,” she continued. “And I’m not gonna lie, these mistakes will cause you to lose things.”

Swift concluded, “I leave you 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.”

Watch Swift’s commencement address below, starting around the 2:51:00:

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