[The following are excerpts from a recent high school graduation address given by Tim Jones. The name of affluent, private school has been withheld to spare the institution further shame and embarrassment for having selected Mr. Jones to deliver the address. – TEJ]
Recently I gave a high school commencement address. Mostly I just read out loud some old VFTB columns I’d written about Donald Trump. Not sure the kids could hear me over the rap music pounding in their ear buds. I must say, those three hours just flew by.
I would like to thank everyone who made today possible. The esteemed faculty, administrators, guidance counselors and even the disgraced former assistant coaches, for everything they’ve done to help all of you reach this important milestone.
I would also like to acknowledge the countless contributions of your self-sacrificing parental figures, by whom I mean your mom, dad, step-dad, other step-dad, and nannies.
Perhaps most importantly, I want to acknowledge the makers of Ritalin and Adderall for helping you kids stay focused enough to complete an impressive 37% of your assignments.
Congratulations, [REDACTED] High School class of 2019. As I look around this dimly lit auditorium and behold a sea of mortarboards atop designer sunglasses, I am struck by all the untapped potential.
I ask you, the co-leaders of tomorrow, to indulge me as I impart a few pearls of wisdom. First, though, I sincerely apologize if my musings distract you from the text messages about tonight’s rave party at Nate’s. I hear it will be “totally lit” because his parents just left for Italy.
You will soon leave the halls of this fine institution behind. Some of you will embark on the journey called “life- how to avoid it”, thanks to your parents’ untraceable bribe that got you into Stanford. Well done, mom and dad. You have four more years to avoid facing reality – that is, unless you are expelled freshman year for never attending class. You might want to rethink your longstanding policy of playing League of Legends till 4a.m. (LOL!)
For those of you not fortunate enough to possess incriminating photos of the Dean of Admissions at the college of your choice (or any college), no worries. There are countless other career options awaiting you after your graduate from [Fill in the blank] Technical College: Horse Inseminator, Sewage Diver, Deodorant Tester, Roadkill Removal Specialist… The world is your oyster, as in oyster shucker. Go for it.
Congratulations, proud high school graduates. You did it! Your future looks bright. I am sure, if you look hard enough, you’ll find that dream six-figure, 20-hour/week job as a cruise ship bartender that you richly deserve. Reach for the stars!
Then there’s the rest of you – you know who you are. You decided college is not for you because you know everything already. Of course, you do. But three months from now, in the off chance your well-thought-out career plan is not unfolding as hoped, and your dreams of making millions as a day trader living in your parents’ basement are not panning out, please drop me a note when you apply for the coveted cashier position at McDonald’s or Burger King. Tough decision. My advice: Hold out for Mickey D’s. Better fries.
Soon into your university experience, you will be required to declare a major. The pressure is enormous, having to make a decision. So many enticing options: Medieval Astrological Studies, Auctioneering, Floral Management, Bagpiping…. One thing is certain: whatever you choose, it will be the wrong choice, which you will not discover until 3 semesters and $45,000 later. When you end up jobless with $100,000 in college loans due, don’t freak out. Remember, your parents co-signed the loans, so technically, they’re liable. Problem solved.
Graduates, I must forewarn you: there will be adjustments as you go forth. The biggest will be that there is no longer a helicopter pad for your parents. Your college professor will not take a call from your mommy explaining that your allergies were acting up and you could not finish the term paper. Your boss will not engage in a text dialogue with your daddy about why you deserve a raise for not missing a day of work in three weeks. You’re in the big leagues now.
I realize some of this might come as a disappointment, but out in the real world, things are a little different. By all means, congratulations on those trophies for Toddler T-ball participation and your 4th grade project on the planets (even though you left out three of them, including Earth). Cherish the Gold Star for picking up most of the crayons you threw across the classroom in 7th grade. And your cogent debate team argument that Lil Wayne is a greater influence in the music world than the Beatles, well, that’s one for yearbook.
I admit, the fact you’ve memorized the lyrics to every Ariana Grande song is pretty “dope” and should count for something. But then, I’m a fan. However, I’m here to tell you that the world out there may not value your incredible childhood “achievements” as much as your parents did.
There are no Smiley Stickers for showing up to work on time. And while it might not seem fair, you probably won’t get that corner office in Chicago with a view of the Pacific when they promote you from Administrative Assistant to Administrative Specialist. Be patient.
These are the proud parents of Joey Grimaldi. He graduated with a 2.3 GPA and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed – with the Babes.” He’s decided to forgo college for a gap year as he entertains his options – both stock and dating. To fund this venture, he plans to live at home and ask his parents for a raise in his allowance.
Your unlimited self-confidence is impressive. You can thank your parents for that, because ever since you were in the womb, they told you incessantly how amazing you were and how you could do anything you set your mind to.
I hate to break it to you, kids. Actually, you’re not quite as special as you think you are. And here is a word you’ll need to get used to hearing: No. As in, “No, we’re not going to install a hot tub in the employee lounge to inspire your creativity.” And “No, you can’t take four days off next week to attend Coachella with ‘your posse.’ We’re on deadline.”
The truth of the matter is, in the real world, not everyone is a winner. Some of us end up losing. If you don’t believe me, google “Gary Busey.” You’re not a real winner if you can’t handle losing. You need to learn how to pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, and push onward. (Readers, I apologize for the previous words of profound wisdom. They came from left field.)
Students, in closing, it’s time someone told you the truth about how life beyond your parents’ protective cocoon actually works. It isn’t always fair. Mom won’t be there to tell your boss to stop being so mean to you for assigning so much work. And success might take a little more effort, persistence, and time than it took for you to break your record score in Grand Theft Auto.
Hey, I could be wrong. Maybe you are every bit as perfect as your parents have protested for the past 18 years. But before you show up at that important interview for the killer job as a video game tester, you might want to remember to say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” give a firm handshake, and make direct eye contact. Oh, and take the ear buds out.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.
Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but, begrudgingly, I may have to put my island life retirement on pause and return to work. That’s because odds are I will be selected as the next president of my alma mater, the prestigious University of Virginia.
You see, I received this email from some guy named Louis something-or-other, whose title is “Rector”, whatever that means. Sounds important. So, Louis informs me the University of Virginia is seeking my input as an esteemed alumnus as to who should be the school’s next head honcho. He even included a survey. I love surveys.
Naturally, I was deeply honored by this personal invitation he sent to me and 27,000 other alumni. I sure hope he overlooks that my last donation to UVa was in 1985. I was short on cash then, so I sent a $25 Starbucks gift card regifted to me for Christmas.
The more I looked at Louis’s questions, the more obvious it became that I was the perfect candidate. Check out the survey and my responses below.
Dear University of Virginia alumnus: Identifying the right leader for our future will depend upon the collective wisdom of the University community, so we appreciate you sharing your thoughts via this survey.
When you think of the University of Virginia, what sort of community do you envision the next president fostering?
MY RESPONSE: As your next university president, I envision a community that believes in effective communication. That’s why I would give special funding to Speech Communication, my extremely lame major, which only qualified me to flip burgers for a living or go on to grad school. It’s time we make Speech Communication the major of the future.
Continue reading “Meet the Likely Next President of My Alma Mater – ME” »
Now that school’s back in session, high school seniors are scrambling to pull together college applications. It’s an anxious time for parents like me. Some parents may be sweating more than others. Take my over-achieving Microsoft senior executive next door neighbors, David and Judy Wong (recent immigrants from Shanghai). They’re frantically hoping their little first violinist, chess champion daughter Vivian gets into Harvard or Yale.
Even with her staggering 6.8 GPA (I have no idea how either), in this competitive environment, Vivian might have to settle for her safety school, Oxford. In our family’s case, we’re just hoping we don’t have to fall back on our daughter’s safety school, the Louisiana Truck Driving Academy for Asian Drivers.
Here at VFTB, our expert staff of college planning advisors and part-time Wal-Mart greeters has assembled a strategy guaranteed to get your child into the Ivy* League college campus of their choice (* we’re talking of course about Ivy Tech Community College with 30 campuses throughout Indiana).
Continue reading “VFTB’s Failsafe five-step strategy to guarantee your kid a spot in Princeton” »
About 18 years ago, my wife and I committed a horrible lapse of financial judgment. We are still paying for this reckless mistake these many years later: We became parents. At first it seemed like a great idea – staring into the innocent, helpless eyes of our two adorably sweet, tiny angel babies we adopted from China.
If only someone could have intervened – stopped me from boarding that plane for Hong Kong – and pointed out that over the next 17 years, these little angels would morph into retirement-savings-draining, eye-rolling, “take me to the mall now” moody, fashion-obsessed teenage drama queens who would eventually become legally permitted to drive my car and whose primary function on this planet appears to be texting their friends about how lame their parents were for not letting them go to a party simply because we don’t know the boy or his family… if only somebody had intervened back then and told me what we would be in for, I would have undoubtedly made … the same reckless decision. But that’s beside the point.
My point is this: Raising kids is expensive. The return on your college investment is highly speculative at best, particularly when you learn your son has decided to major in Medieval French Gender Studies. For many parents a far less risky investment would be to put down their entire life savings on the trifecta in the second race at Belmont Park.
Continue reading “Five strategies to take the worry out of saving for your kids’ college education” »
Greetings, Class of 2011. My, don’t you all look so grown up in your elegant caps and gowns and iPods blasting out Death Cab for Cutie at full volume. It seems only yesterday that you were stumbling around in Huggies and toddler booties and iPods blasting out Raffi at full volume. Graduation Day is upon us for millions of American college seniors like you. As has been my tradition for the past 17 years about this time, this week’s post is my annual Advice to you, the College Graduating Class of 2011.
My advice to you? Don’t pay attention to anyone who tries to give you advice…. except for the advice I am about to share, of course. It’s important that you make your own choices in life. So make good ones. In looking back on the choices I made in my youth, I realize I made some poor ones now and then. If I had it to do over again, I wished I hadn’t taken three years of Latin in high school. I’m not Catholic so becoming Pope is probably out of the question. So exactly when would I ever have used it? Never.
I also should never have taken Post-Modern Latvian Studies in college. That [#bleep#]-ing bastard Professor Yuri Švābe was a cruel old son of a bitch. I wish he would die a painful, wrenching death for totally messing up my GPA… I mean, er, um, I found him to be rather draconian in his grading methodology. Perhaps most of all, I deeply regret rooming with Tony Markowitz of Monmouth, New Jersey for two years in college. Not only was he a complete slob and never did the dishes, but he always smelled like bass and routinely ate my Lucky Charms cereal without asking. I urge you to learn from my youthful mistakes.
Continue reading “My advice to the graduating class of 2011: Don’t Tweet Your Junk.” »