What Commencement Speakers Should Really Say

Alexandra Petri weighs in on sometimes hard-to-hear truths
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2012 9:04 AM CDT
Not all commencement speeches are entirely honest, Alexandra Petri writes.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Wish you could ditch the inspirational commencement speech for something a bit more realistic? So does Alexandra Petri. But she wasn’t satisfied with Charles Wheelan’s recent list in the Wall Street Journal, “10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You,” because she kinda remembered hearing all of the observations it contained ... in commencement speeches. So, in the Washington Post, she offers up “the 10 things they really don’t tell you at graduation.”

  • Get ready to be unemployed and living with mom and dad. She’s not trying to be cruel, just stating facts, she explains, and she has the statistics to prove it. Here's one: "29% of 25-to-34 year-olds live in what the poll-taker was kind enough to refer to as "multi-generational living arrangements" rather than "your old room with all the anime posters and Admiral Ackbar figures carelessly splayed on every surface."

  • Don't expect a "gold star" for doing mundane chores like cleaning your bathroom. Though TV commercials may try to convince you that "a bald man or anthropomorphic sponge will give you a high-five" once you've mopped your floor, that'll only actually happen if you "accidentally inhaled some of the cleaning product as you worked."
  • You should really, really appreciate your youth. "Life can be divided into two sections: the years when you know that if you fall over you are unlikely to break a hip, and the years when you’re not so sure," so make sure to have fun during that first part.
  • Your education did not teach you the most important thing. Which is: "how to deal with having money and how to deal with not having money." Since it instead taught you all about the Renaissance poets, you’ll have to learn about personal finance on your own.
Click for Petri’s full, amusing list, which includes a hilarious tip about book clubs.

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