Graduation Speech 2015: DJ Corbett


I am very honored to have been chosen to be one of the few speakers today. I was told my purpose was to speak to you all, but primarily to send a message to my beloved fellow classmates. But, due to my glaring narcissism I decided, forget all of you. I’m gonna write a letter to my future self…

Dear DJ,

You know that Ogden Nash quote, “Middle age is when you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you”? Please tell me you’re not there yet. Optimistically, that caller is one of the foreign models you met on your last trip over to the newest of your 7 private islands. But, if by some small sliver of a chance, this scenario somehow doesn’t pan out, the government pays off the national debt and Donald Trump wins the presidential election, I have some words of advice that will help to optimize whatever situation life has thrown at you.

First off…

There is a drastic difference between being alive and truly living. Yes, future self, I realize that is painfully cliche, but this is a graduation speech after all. While I do love being alive, the latter is what will bring you true happiness. Life in our wonderful capitalist society is becoming more and more hectic and fast paced every day. There is a need for constant progression and advancement that causes an inevitable yet overwhelming focus on what is to come in the future, which is actually yet another cliché, so brace yourselves. When all of your focus is directed towards the future, you cannot enjoy the present, and therefore are not truly living. Now I am not telling you to extract all the money you have put into savings throughout your life up to this point and buy an 8th private island because the future is irrelevant. I am telling you not to forget what is really important. Which is right here, right now. The future is never guaranteed, so appreciate every moment that you are lucky enough to have. Cancer taught me this lesson the hard way. When I was first given my diagnosis, my first thought was “I am going to die.” As irrational as this conclusion was, experiencing a split second, in which I truly believed my life was ending, changed everything. I could suddenly see the trivial nature of 90% of the problems that we, living in the first world, have and constantly blow out of proportion. After this experience, simply being able to wake up healthy everyday, see my wonderful family and friends, and have the luxury of living in a country where I have complete freedom over my future, is almost too good to be true. So take full advantage of every amazing day that you are presented with. Don’t be the person who is constantly stressing over his job, and has convinced himself that his blackberry phone is actually an extremity that he cannot separate from. Say hello to the people you walk by on the street, and eventually one will return your gesture with a smile that will better your day. Like mine. (*smiles*) Although, I have learned through past experiences that, unless you want to get an extremely judgemental look in return, starting conversation with the stranger using the urinal next to you might not be the best way to implement this advice. But you get the point. Live in the moment. Appreciate the people you are with, when you are actually with them. Do not spend your life dwelling on the past or obsessing over the future.

Once you have mastered this art of truly living, there is but one last quintessential step to living up to your full potential of DJness. Do you remember all of those times when an older sibling, teacher, parent or other adult figure told you to “grow up”? Don’t. Whatever you do, don’t grow up. Why? It’s simple. The end goal in life is happiness. And generally speaking, the people that I most often see being sincerely and utterly happy, are little kids. One of the biggest reasons for this, is because they unknowingly follow my first words of advice perfectly. They are always living 100% in the present, and get so much more out of life because of it. The other reason is because of the strength of a child’s imagination. No matter how mundane the world can seem to an adult who has fallen into the trap of “growing up”, the world is always a dramatic adventure for kids. I always felt bad for my parents, thinking that the looming figure in our backyard was a tree. It was obviously a giant evil monster that I needed to defeat in order to save the world. See, I have never understood the necessity of “growing up and accepting the reality of the world.” Why would I want to do that? First off, it sounds boring. And secondly, reality is subjective anyways. Before our race brought around sentience, it was no more than eat, sleep, pee repeat. So I can pretty much decide on whatever reality I want. So DJ, if all the other adults in the future want to think that giant monsters are trees and that magical lightsabers are sticks, and forget the freedom that childlike imagination brings you, do not follow in their footsteps. If you want to run down Wall Street fighting all the bad guys that everyone else mysteriously cannot see, then do it. I promise you will feel more free and happy than all of the bystanders who are now wondering which mental hospital you escaped from. Preserving your inner child is more than not forgetting that the world is whatever you want it to be. It is also seeing other people as a child does. Without judgement or the preconceived notions that society can sometimes push upon you. I truly hope that in our future world, things like the color of one’s skin will not affect how a person is treated or what opportunities they are given, but even if these things do linger in the future, combat them through your everyday actions. Be accepting, be kind, be loving, free yourself from judgement and be the best person you can be.

Now I know that forgetting is an inevitable misfortune that comes hand in hand with aging. As George Burns once said, “First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.” By now, I’m guessing that you might have come to the conclusion that I am not strictly talking to my future self. But I am also not just talking to my classmates. My hope is that everyone listening to my soothing voice today will take something meaningful away from this speech. So to my future self, to all of you, and to the classmates I love like family, here are my parting words. No matter how bad things seem, never forget how lucky you are to live the lives that you have been given. Never lose that child-like imagination and perspective of the world. And never, under any circumstances, forget about your zipper. Thank you.