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May 17, 2021 8 mins

In this episode of Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2021, best-selling author, podcaster, and award-winning journalist Jo Piazza sizes up the ups and the downs of being a graduate today, and shares what she believes is the most important decision most people will make, with the graduating class of 2021.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:07):
To the class of and the family, friends, teachers, and
neighbors who helped them along the way. Congratulations, he did it.
Graduation might look a little different this year, and it'll
almost certainly feel different, but whether you're celebrating with a
small in person crew or gearing up for another virtual event,

(00:28):
this is your moment, which is why we're bringing you
the commencement you deserve, full of wisdom to help you
step into the real world and enter a brand new normal.
Ready to get inspired, put your hands together for one
of this year's incredible commencement speakers, the one, the only,
Joe Piazza, m Hello graduates, Hi, how you allen? I

(01:01):
made up my mind this year to open all my
conversations with how are you feeling? Instead of how are you?
Because frankly, we all deserve the chance to tell people
that maybe we aren't fine and that's okay. And I
wanted to start this speech off by saying, I am
so sorry that you had to have this dumpster fire
of a year as your senior year. There's no way

(01:22):
around it. It sucked and you are the freaking best
for dealing with it. But here's the silver lining, And
let me tell you there is always a silver lining,
my young friends, getting through this is going to make
you stronger, more interesting, more capable, and just better at life.
It's true. You will have a story for the ages.

(01:45):
You will be adaptable in a world that is now
always going to be a little bit strange. It is
the world's going to be weird from now on. So
give yourselves a goddamn round of applause and say, hey,
we can do hard fucking things. Now, let's get into
a little bit of advice the things that you should
probably know as you move into this increasingly strange world.

(02:09):
I do not know a lot, but I do know
some things or being a human that's lived on the
planet for the past forty years, and there are definitely
some things that I would have liked people to tell
me when I graduated. I'm going to tell you a secret.
I don't actually remember who gave the graduation speech at
my college graduation. I was really hungover, but I do

(02:30):
know that he, and it was definitely a he. It
was some old white man. He wasn't very life changing,
or I would have paid a little bit of attention.
So here we go. First off, you you look amazing
right now. Ten years from today, you will pull up
a picture of yourself in and be like, why the

(02:50):
hell didn't I think I looked amazing back then. Don't
feel that way in ten years. I want you to
write you look amazing on a post it and put
it on your bathroom mirror. Right this second. You can
do that, because right now you're probably sitting alone in
your house. And again, I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry
that this is how you have to listen to graduation speeches.

(03:11):
My second piece of advice don't send naked pictures of
yourself to people. Just don't do it. They're gonna end
up somewhere that you don't want them to end up,
and we all know how that turns out. It's bad.
Don't send naked pictures. It's just dumb. At this point. Also,
in the same vein, be very careful what you tweet.
When I was a teenager, I thought about things like tattoos.

(03:32):
I was like, oh my god, don't get a tattoo,
because tattoos are forever and one day you won't get
hired for a big important job. Let me tell you,
no employer gives a rat's ass about your tramp stamp,
but they will read everything you have ever posted on
every goddamn social media platform that you've been on since
you were twelve, and you've all been on since you

(03:52):
were twelve. I know that. Be careful what you tweet, TikTok, Graham,
all the things. Be careful. Next up, speaking of things,
do try all of the things. You might know what
you want to be when you grow up, but you
probably don't. You never really know, and that's okay. I
started college as a biomedical engineering major. I don't even

(04:14):
know what that means or what that does. I graduated
as an econ major, went to grad school for journalism,
and then again to graduate school for religious studies, and
now I write books and make podcasts. You never know.
So try all the things. Say yes to all the opportunities,
because you don't know what you're going to be good
and incredible at or what you'll enjoy. So try it all.

(04:38):
And now, when you do get a job, any job,
any job you're going to take after after this, be
a kind, nice person. And at the end of the day,
your loyalty should be to the people that you work
with and not the corporations. In the past twenty years,
I have worked at about a half dozen tech and
media companies that do not fucking exist anymore. They just

(04:58):
went poof, poof into the night. And a lot of
white dudes made a lot of money when they went
proof into the night. But whatever, they were good jobs.
I learned a lot. But most importantly, I met wonderful
people who have remained my friends and colleagues to this day,
people who uplifted me and promoted me and have given
me work. My very first intern is now the executive

(05:22):
editor of a very fancy magazine, and I write things
for her and she pays me for them, and so
that brings me to another point. Also, be a good
boss to the people that work right under you. Teach
them everything you know, and don't treat them like shit,
because one day they may be your boss and pay
you to do things. The crux of that is just
be a good person, be nice, don't be jealous. Help people.

(05:46):
There's some other more personal advice that I wish people
had told me. If you are a person in the
world with ovaries and you want children, free your eggs.
Freeze them. They're not going to get any younger. And
I know too many people who have ovaries who wanted
a family and waited, and now they're sad. They're sad
and they feel like they didn't do all the things
that they wanted to do. So play out ahead, and

(06:07):
it will give you the freedom to do whatever you
want in your career and to wait for a partner
who was good and wonderful and supportive and will help
you continue to be incredible in your career. And while
we're talking about partners, I'm going to bring up some
advice that someone else told me, the magical writer Catlin Moran.
You should go out and read everything that she's ever written.

(06:28):
Catlin told me you marry your glass ceiling. Your partner
is the one thing that can hold you back in
life and your career. So choose wisely, my friends. Choose
like you are Indiana Jones in the crypt picking a chalice,
and you are going to disappear into dust if you
choose the wrong cup. Remember the guy who chose the

(06:49):
wrong cup. I forget his name, but Indi didn't. INDI
did not know. Choose a partner who wants you to shine,
one who does the dishes without asking, and then one
who does it make you feel all bad about it,
or like brags like, oh my god, I did the dishes,
choose a person who wants to be an equal partner
and an equal human in the world with you, and

(07:09):
now my favorite bit, and then I'm going to wrap
this up because everyone wants a quick graduation speech. You
don't want me to go on and on forever. No
one is paying as much attention to you as you
think they are. They're not. And I know that might
hurt to hear, but it shouldn't. It should feel totally liberating.
And I wish I'd known that when I graduated, because

(07:30):
I thought everyone was paying so much attention to me.
And the truth is, no one cares. So go out
there and make mistakes, try things. Date inappropriate people, but
do not marry them. Try a job that you might
hate because you might end up loving it. And of
course you should go out there and be the best
version of you, but also know that you are always
going to be your worst critic, and you shouldn't be

(07:53):
because you are amazing. Go read that post it. You're amazing.
Read the post it, pat yourself on the back, and
then go out into the world and kick some fucking ass.

(08:15):
Can you can find the collection of an incredible commencement
addresses from all your favorite speakers at the Commencement Podcast
on I Heart radio or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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