The Sandy Rules
Keynoting at Commencement
–By Jan McInnis, Comedian and Keynote Speaker
My comedian and keynote skills came in useful recently as I was honored to be a commencement speaker this past Spring. My niece Sandy graduated from college, but since her university changed the day of graduation only weeks before the ceremony, she skipped the cap & gown walk to get her diploma. Her parents had a family party for her but we didn’t get to see a big, full-on graduation.
I have never performed comedy at a graduation, but I still I love going to them – there’s energy in the air as the graduates march to Pomp and Circumstance knowing that change is about to happen. In fact it’s one of the few times in life that you get a heads-up that the universe is shifting on you BIG TIME. Wouldn’t it be great if every life change, big and small, was preceded by appropriate music? Like minutes before a water pipe bursts and floods your new hardwood floors, you hear Otis Redding’s song “sitting on the dock of the Bay”. That way you’d get some notice so you could line up a plumber and get financing. But many of life’s twists don’t happen with a familiar song . . .except graduations.
But Sandy didn’t attend hers. . .which in my family doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to have a ceremony, regardless of your wishes. So my other sister and my brother and I decided to hold commencement in the living room, during Sandy’s party, and I got to give the keynote. I only learned about this engagement as my plane landed that day because that’s when my siblings came up with the idea. So not having much time, I wrote my valuable advice, on the way to the party, in the CVS parking lot as I was whitening my teeth (there would be pictures!).
What I came up with are the S.A.N.D.Y. rules. And considering I will probably never be invited to give another commencement address again (I’m running out of nieces and nephews), I thought I’d share ‘em with you as a little refresher for life.
S – Stop second guessing yourself. Today you’ll make choices that affect your future. Some of your choices will be terrible (perms in the 80’s anyone?). Don’t freak out. Most choices aren’t set in stone anyway, and luckily you’ll get other future choices to correct the bad ones. Make a choice and move on.
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