Taylor Swift Was Awarded An Honorary Degree From NYU And Gave A Commencement Speech About Her "Excruciatingly Painful" Experience In The Limelight

By Gina Florio··  4 min read
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Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has been in the limelight since she was only 15 years old. Since then her career has exploded and she's become much more than a musician – she's a cultural icon from which millions of young people generate inspiration.

Taylor Swift didn't go to college because she found so much success with her music career at such a young age, so she never participated in the pomp and circumstance with the cap and gown. But New York University has given her a first-time opportunity. She was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the prestigious university, and she even gave the commencement speech for all the graduates. Her speech wasn't exactly what you might expect at a graduation ceremony, but it was very Taylor.

Taylor Swift Gave a Commencement Speech about Her "Excruciatingly Painful" Experience in the Limelight

Normally, commencement speeches are full of wisdom, insight, and inspiration for the outgoing class of graduates. Taylor took a bit of a different route. She spent the vast majority of her 23-minute speech talking about her experience in the spotlight over the last 15 years.

“I’m 90% sure the main reason I’m here is because I have a song called '22,'" she joked. She continued with accounts of growing up in the public eye.

“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 said. “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.”

She may be praised by most media sites and Twitter accounts for this speech, but let's just be real for a second and talk about how self-indulgent and self-obsessive it is. Taylor is one of the most beloved A-list celebrities to ever walk the face of the planet and she has millions and millions of fans across the world who worship the very ground she walks on, and yet she wants to tell the 2022 graduating class of NYU that she was "publicly humiliated over and over again at a young age"?

There's no doubt she's referring to the Kim Kardashian and Kanye West debacle in which she was embarrassed by Kim's reveal of her private conversation with Kanye in which she gave him permission to rap about her in the hit song "Famous." But of course, she's the eternal victim in this situation. She told the NYU graduates that she was made out to be a "snake" (because that's exactly what she was in this situation) and called the situation "snakegate."

“Getting canceled on the internet and nearly losing my career gave me an excellent knowledge of all the types of wine,” she said.

Still not sure what this has to do with the graduates sitting in front of her, but she keeps going and tells everyone that she was "the youngest person in every room for over a decade." She recalled feeling pressured to act a certain way by the people who had been in the industry for much longer than she had.

“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," she said. "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.”

That's when Taylor finally brought it back to the graduates sitting in the audience by reassuring them that making mistakes isn't so bad and sometimes you can't overthink it.

“In your life, you will inevitably misspeak, trust the wrong people, underreact, 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,” Taylor told the graduates.

Not the worst advice in the world, but not exactly the most moving graduation speech that you might expect at the NYU level.

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