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Taylor Swift gives commencement speech: ‘Cringe is unavoidable over a lifetime’

The "Shake It Off" singer spoke at the graduation for New York University seniors.
/ Source: TODAY

We don't know about you, but we think Taylor Swift was feeling it for ... the class of '22!

Swift, 32, gave the commencement address on Wednesday for New York University's graduating class, held at Yankee Stadium. And not only did she receive an honorary doctorate from the school (Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa), she offered a lot of homespun wisdom and encouragement to the class.

Taylor Swift Delivers New York University 2022 Commencement Address
Taylor Swift with Jason King, Chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. at the New York University 2022 Commencement Address at Yankee Stadium on May 18 in New York City.Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

After joking that her last visit to a stadium the size of the ballfield found her dressed in heels and "a glittery leotard," Swift reminded the young crowd that making mistakes is what makes us human.

"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."

Taylor Swift Delivers New York University 2022 Commencement Address
Swift, arriving among the graduating class. Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

She noted that such a worldview led her to believe that any errors would sink her forever. But, she noted, "My experience has been that my mistakes led to the best things in my life.... Being embarrassed when you mess up is part of the human experience. Getting back up, dusting yourself off and seeing who still wants to hang out with you afterward and laugh about it? That’s a gift."

Swift was clearly delighted to be there; as she noted on TikTok along with a video of her getting into the correct, non-spangly outfit, this was a new experience for her in more ways than one.

"Wearing a cap and gown for the very first time — see you soon NYU 🥺🥰🗽#swifttok #classof2022" she wrote in the caption.

Swift's meteoric rise as a songwriter and musician began when she was just 14, which meant she'd never had a chance to matriculate or graduate with her peers. Instead, her real education came in growing up among record label executives and in front of the paparazzi.

Swift delivering her speech.
Swift delivering her speech.NYU

One piece of advice she gave the class was this: Not to cringe away from ... cringe: "Learn to live alongside cringe. No matter how hard you try to avoid being cringe, you will look back on your life and cringe retrospectively. Cringe is unavoidable over a lifetime. Even the term ‘cringe’ might someday be deemed ‘cringe’."

In other words, try not to edit your life as you're living it. "I promise you, you’re probably doing or wearing something right now that you will look back on later and find revolting and hilarious," she said. "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."

Taylor Swift Delivers New York University 2022 Commencement Address
Swift being quite adorable behind the podium.Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

Want to see the whole speech? Check it out, starting around 1:10:00.