You get a diploma, and you get a diploma!
Oprah Winfrey delivered the commencement speech at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism on Friday, urging graduating students to “be the truth” in a world that “appears to have gone off its rocker.”
The world-famous media mogul broke down the “bad news” (“We have literally walked into traffic while staring at our phones”), illuminated the “good news” (“The solution is each and every one of you”) and left the next generation with a simple set of golden rules to abide by: Eat a good breakfast, pay your bills on time, recycle, make your bed, say thank you, put your phone away at the dinner table, think before your tweet and invest in a quality mattress.
But this is Oprah we’re talking about, and her advice didn’t end at investing in great shoes. Find nine of her greatest quotes from today’s speech below and prepare to feel empowered!
On standing up for your beliefs: “These times are here to let us know that we need to take a stand for our right to have hope. We need to take a stand with every ounce of wit and courage we can muster. The question is, what are you willing to stand for? That question is going to follow you throughout your life. Here’s how you answer it: You put your honor where your mouth is.”
On creating a legacy for yourself: “History is still being written. You’re writing it everyday. The wheels still spin and what you do and what you don’t do will be apart of it. You build a legacy not from one thing, but from everything.”
On unifying: “You can’t personally stop anyone from walking into a school with an assault rifle. Nor can you single-handedly ensure that the rights that your mothers and your grandmothers fought so hard for will be preserved for the daughters that you may some day have. It will take more than you alone to pull more than 40 million Americans out of poverty, but who will you be if you don’t care enough to try? And what mountains could we move, what gridlock could we eradicate if we were to join forces and work together in service of something greater than ourselves.”
On maintaining relationships: “If you’re fighting with someone you really love, for God’s sake find your way back to them because life is short even on your longest days.”
On embracing your true self: “This will save you. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You’re only on this planet to be you, not someone else’s imitation of you… Your life journey is about learning to become more of who you are and fulfilling the highest, truest expression of yourself as a human being. That’s why you’re here.”
On the importance of truth: “The truth exonerates, and it convicts. It disinfects, and it galvanizes. The truth has always been and will always be our shield against corruption our shield against greed and despair the truth is our saving grace. And not only are you here to tell it, to write it, to proclaim it, to speak it, but to be it. Be the truth. Be the truth.”
On overcoming today’s era of hysteria: “What I’ve learned in all these years is that we’re not supposed to match it or even get locked into resisting or pushing against it. We’re supposed to see this moment in time for what it is. We’re supposed to see through it and transcend it. That is how you overcome hysteria, and that is how you overcome the sniping at one another, the trolling, the mean spirited partisanship on both sides of the aisle, the divisiveness, the injustices, the out and out hatred. You use it. Use this moment to encourage you to embolden you and to literally push you into the rising of your life.”
On choosing your leaders: “I hesitate to say this because the rumors from my last big speech have finally died down, but here it is: Vote. Pay attention to what the people who claim to represent you are doing and saying in your name and on your behalf… If they go low—thank you, Michelle Obama—we go to the polls. People died for that right. I think about it every time I cast a vote, so don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.”
Oprah’s hope for the Class of 2018: “I hold you in the light, and I wish you curiosity and confidence, and I wish you ethics and enlightenment. I wish you guts… I wish you propose and the passion that goes along with that purpose. I hope that everyone of you contributes to the conversation of our culture and our time and to some genuine communication… I hope you shake things up, and when the time comes to bet on yourself, I hope you double down.”
We’re not crying, you are! Watch Oprah’s commencement speech in full by pressing play on the video above.