Skip to main content

A Graduation Speech to 8th Graders

This time each year, I like to write a Graduation Speech I'll Never Give. This time, it's to all the 8th graders who are "graduating" and moving up to high school in the fall.

Thank you, Principal Harbinger, parents, and "graduates."

I say "graduates" with tongue firmly in cheek, because we all know you haven't actually graduated anything. You won't graduate from school for another four years, but our participation trophy society now calls leaving one school building for another "graduation," so here we are.

But a check is a check, and I told Principal Harbinger I would call you whatever she wanted as long as the check cleared.

First of all, I want to congratulate you. You have completed nine years of your 13 years of education, and you've met the requirements necessary to become a teacher during Laura Ingalls Wilder's time.

You are also entering the stage of life where you will be at your smartest. Now that you can read a newspaper, go to the potty by yourself, and solve-for-X 70% of the time, you will — or so you'll believe — know more, understand more, and comprehend more than your parents ever did.

You will be wrong, but none of you are paying attention to me anyway.

This stage of life will last roughly anywhere from eight to twelve years, until you get married, have families, and start asking your parents how to do certain things — changing diapers, calming colicky babies, and coping with teenagers who are too big for their britches.

Of course, if you aren't careful, some of you may start learning these things in three or four years. And, I can see by the look on Principal Harbinger's face that this is neither the time nor the place to mention that.

So let me just say that your parents have rules for you for a reason; Principal Harbinger's forbidden topic is that reason.

Over the next four years, your parents will understand less and less, until they're slack-jawed morons whose sole purpose in life is to drive you everywhere and/or embarrass you.

Once they're paying for you go to college, they may improve slightly. Otherwise, they'll be so out-of-touch and uptight, thanks to your newfound ideals, that family holidays will be week-long tirades about how old-fashioned they are.

Believe it or not, "graduates," your parents weren't always khaki-wearing, minivan-driving buzzkills. They used to be cool as hell.

They were passionate. They had dreams, and they just wanted to have a good time and love life. Your dad wanted to write the next Great American Novel, and hang out with his friends on weekends. He was going to drink expensive scotch and drive fast sports cars — not at the same time, of course. He was going to live in an old warehouse converted to loft apartments where he could park his vintage motorcycle inside.

Your mom was going to become a lawyer and fight social injustice on behalf of people who couldn't fight themselves. She was going to stay close to her college friends and go clubbing with them every weekend, after a long week of saving the world.

So how did they go from that to, well, this?

Here's what happened: Everyone point your index finger up at the sky. (No, kid, your index finger.) Now, bend your wrist so your finger points back at you.

That's what happened. You did. You and your siblings.

Your parents used to stay up late, discussing big ideas with their friends. They ate crazy foods at weird restaurants. They went to art galleries, and watched exciting new plays. They went on camping trips, and wandered the city at night for hours.

Then you came along, and they were responsible for another life. They had to take care of you. So your dad sold his motorcycle, and your mom sold her cute little sports car she named after her favorite actor, and they bought a minivan because it was safer. And they moved out to the suburbs, so you could play outside.

To afford this new life, he got an unfulfilling job that wouldn't let him wear jeans or concert t-shirts, so he bought khakis because they were the least uncomfortable. And she got a less glamorous job that gave her plenty of time to spend with you, or she gave up her career entirely.

He never got to write that novel; she never got to stand up to big corporations.

And they became lame, because they had a child, or children, they wanted to keep safe. They wanted you to stay alive for these last 13 years, and they wanted to prepare you for the next 60 years.

They became lame for you.

So, congratulations, "graduates." You're now ready to deride your parents over the next 12 years for being lame and stupid, and make them feel sad about the lives they once hoped to lead.

And just think, you're only 12 or so years away from starting down that path yourselves!

Now, now, quit crying. Go hug your parents and get your diploma. Congratulations, former 8th graders. You can be anything you want in the world, as long as you do it before 2028.

Make us proud.

Photo credit: Family MWR, US Army (Flickr, Creative Commons)

You can find my books Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My third book The Owned Media Doctrine is available on

Like this post? Leave a comment.


  1. This is outstanding. I think every college graduate gets hit with this right upside the head about a year after they graduate and it becomes cool again to hang out with their parents. I felt like such an idiot when it happened to me.


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am accepting comments from people with Google accounts to cut down on spam.
Otherwise, spam comments will be deleted with malicious glee.

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide


Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…