Best Graduation Speeches

Since it’s commencement season and around this time every year we always share with you the best graduation speeches being given across the country, we just have to share with you a remix of a commencement speech that went viral (just in case you haven’t seen it yet). It’s not a commencement speech from this year but rather a speech from a few years back by a famous author, David Foster Wallace, who has since committed suicide. The actual commencement speech, given to Kenyon College graduates on May 21, 2005 was quite a bit longer but this remix is really something that is incredible to watch. While it doesn’t beat out Conan O’Brien’s commencement speech given to Dartmouth College — which we rate as the funniest commencement speech given to date — it’s certainly moving.

In the speech, David Foster Wallace discusses how adulthood can be, well, banal at times. He discusses standing in line at the grocery store, watching people pick their noses, cough, complain, and sigh. He discusses sitting in traffic to go to work only to sit in traffic on the way back from work. He talks about routine and how boring routine can be. He talks about all of the things that graduation speeches aren’t usually about. They’re usually about changing the world and hope. But, in between changing the world, you have to stand in line at the grocery store on occasion, right?

We think this is a phenomenal remix of a great graduation speech and kudos to the filmmakers for turning this speech into something very special that touched people all over the world. We hope you enjoy watching “This Is Water.”

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1 Comment

  • Mely says:

    There’s only one real criticism I can level agisnat this speech and that’s that it might have been a bit ambitious considering his audience. Telling a group of secondary school graduates you’re not special was always going to attract the assumption that this was a bitter and twisted man taking great pleasure in pounding graduates into the ground.Of course, that’s not what this speech is about at all. And special , in this speech, means entitled , as far as I can see. And that’s a good message to put out, so long as it’s not put out in some lofty, condescending, all students are deluded kind of way. And I definitely agree with him that special isn’t something to be aspired to. Your dreams should be your aspiration and special should be a by-product. I think my favourite line is about climbing the mountain, not so that the world can see you but so you can see the world. The way I’m reading that is as though he’s saying chase your dreams because they’re your dreams, because you believe in them, not because of how they’ll be perceived by others. Fine, if you want to be a doctor, a scientist, an engineer, go for it. Chase it for all you’re worth. But do it because that’s what you want to do, what you love, not because those are the graduate jobs that will command respect. I think there’s some guidance on the very definition of special there too. Because really, what is special ? You can’t decide special on a single set of criteria. If special means that you have to make some ground-breaking discovery, then there aren’t many special people out there at all. If special means that you have to be very generous with your money, that means that no-one struggling with financial issues can ever be special. Special , quite frankly, is often in the eye of the beholder, and I’m fine with that. Special doesn’t have to be something big and impressive. Special can be as simple as what you are to yourself and what you are to those who are close to you.

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