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Taylor Swift Gives Life Hacks on Failure, Cringe Moments at NYU Graduation

The singer-songwriter said to welcome mistakes and embrace cringe.
by Clara Rosales
May 19, 2022

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift gave what she called "life hacks" to New York University's spring graduates on Wednesday, telling them to accept their mistakes and embrace cringe moments as they venture out into the post-pandemic world.

Swift, who was granted an honorary fine arts doctorate, started her speech by acknowledging all the parents and supporters of NYU graduates, "Let me just say: Welcome to New York, it's been waiting for you," a reference to her 2014 hit.

"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."

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The commencement ceremony, which took place at New York City's Yankee Stadium, had tens of thousands of NYU graduates in attendance, including Vice President Leni Robredo's daughter Jillian Robredo, who now has a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Economics and Mathematics.

Multiple Grammy winner Swift said starting her music career at 15 mader her the subject of warnings and unsolicited advice of adults in the music industry.

Instead of giving advice, Swift instead opted to offer life hacks she wish she knew when she was starting out, like choosing to be fearless in the pursuit of passions, even if it means screwing up along the way. Mistakes lead to losses, but also open doors to opportunities, Swift said.

"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," she said.

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To end her speech, Swift referenced one of her songs from 2013.

"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," Swift said.

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