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Taylor Swift Was Feeling '22 Delivering These Words Of Wisdom During NYU Commencement Speech

Taylor Swift giving commencement speech for New York University's Class of 2022, given honorary degree
(Image credit: New York University/YouTube)

With graduation season in full effect, many Swifties already have the singer on their minds as the Class of 2022 reminds one of her Red hit. On Wednesday morning, Taylor Swift joined the graduating class of New York University to receive an honorary degree and give an inspiring speech featuring her own “life hacks” as she reflects on her incredible life and career thus far. The 32-year-old is certainly wise beyond her years. 

Taylor Swift began her speech with a couple jokes, sharing that the last time she was in a stadium that size, she was in “heels and wearing a glittery leotard” whilst also quipping that she’s “90% sure the main reason” she’s here is because of her song “22.” Of the many memorable words she said during the speech, this early moment stands out: 

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.

Taylor Swift did not experience college, as she was busy becoming one of the biggest musicians of all time, such as recently breaking a 50-year-old record with "All Too Well", but she did share that she always thought she would go away to college. She shared that her music video for “Love Story,” featured her “fantasy imaginary college” where she meets a “male model reading a book on the grass and with one single glance, we realize we had been in love in our past lives” and joked that every NYU graduate must relate, right? 

While sharing that she doesn’t like to give “unsolicited advice” because growing up in the industry at 15, so many people did, she did impart a great mindset on how she lives life, by also saying this: 

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.

Taylor Swift has certainly been the subject of a lot of criticism and unfair mocking over the years as her fandom grew bigger and bigger, but as the years have gone on, it sounds like the singer has become more and more comfortable with being herself and knowing that the “haters gonna hate” per her famous “Shake It Off” track. She also spoke about feeling like she couldn’t make mistakes as a young adult, but since realizing this: 

My experience has been that my mistakes led to the best things in my life. And being embarrassed when you mess up is part of the human experience. 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. The times I was told no or wasn’t included, wasn’t chosen, didn’t win, didn’t make the cut…looking back, it really feels like those moments were as important, if not more crucial, than the moments I was told ‘yes.’

Her speech was incredibly inspiring, as the singer looked back at what she has learned as a young singer coming up into the country scene, living her teen and adult years in the spotlight and becoming a major success despite the naysayers. She ended the commencement speech on a high note with these words: 

Scary news is: You’re on your own now. Cool news is: You’re on your own now. 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 it 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.

To see Taylor Swift deliver her full commencement speech, take a look at the moment from the NYU livestream of the ceremony. Check it out: 

This past year, Taylor Swift has been busy beginning to re-release her original six records after her masters were sold by Scooter Braun. She has written an original song “Carolina” for the 2022 upcoming movie Where The Crawdads Sing and will find a role in David O’Russell’s latest film, Amsterdam. Congrats to Taylor Swift for her honorary doctorate and for the Class of ‘22, especially for getting such a great commencement speech from the singer the same year as your graduation! 

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.