“…You never know what is around the corner unless you peek. Hold someone’s hand while you do it. You will feel less scared. You can’t do this alone. Besides it is much more fun to succeed and fail with other people. You can blame them when things go wrong. Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible. And I mean that literally. I hurt my knee on the treadmill this week and it wasn’t even on. Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about. Limit your “always” and your “nevers.” Continue to share your heart with people even if its been broken. Don’t treat your heart like an action figure wrapped in plastic and never used. And don’t try to give me that nerd argument that your heart is a batman with a limited edition silver battering and therefore if it stays in its original package it increases in value. Watch it Harvard, you’re not better than me.
Even though, as a class, you are smart, you are still allowed to say, “I don’t know.” Just because you are in high demand, you are still allowed to say, “Let me get back to you.” This will come in handy when your parents ask when you plan to move out of their basement and you answer, “I don’t know. Let me get back to you.” Which leads me to my final thought: would it kill you to be nicer to your parents? They have sacrificed so much for you, and all they want you to do is smile and take a picture with your weird cousins. Do that for them. And with less eye-rolling, please. And so, class of 2011, it is time to leave. Oprah has spoken.
So I will end with this quote: Heyah, Heyah, Heyah, Heyah, Heyah, heyah, heyah, heyah, alright alright alright, alright, alright. The group: Outcast; the song: Heyah. The lyrics: nonsense. I’m sorry it was really late when I wrote this.
This is what I want to say. When you feel scared, hold someone’s hand and look into their eyes. And when you feel brave, do the same thing. You are all here because you are smart. And you are brave. And if you add kindness and the ability to change a tire, you almost make up the perfect person. I thank you for asking me to speak to you today. As you head out into the world I wish you love and light, joy, and much laughter. And as always, please don’t forget to tip your waitresses. Thank you very much.”
- Amy Poehler, 2011 Harvard Commencement Speech