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Dear Graduates (and anyone going through a life change): You might be scared. But it's gonna be okay. Here is our best advice for what we wish we'd known when we were younger.

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Full text of Danny Elfman's commencement speech:

Video of John Green's commencement speech:

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Merchandise from Mike (including "Reading Changes Us" and "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost" posters!):

"How to Adult" is a "life skills" edutainment channel brought to you by Executive Producers Hank Green and John Green. Subscribe for new videos every week!


Created, Hosted, and Written by:
Emma Mills & T. Michael (Mike) Martin
Mike is also a Young Adult novelist. His book, THE END GAMES, is available at all online booksellers, including
Indiebound ( ) and Amazon: (

Directed by:
T. Michael Martin

Edited by:
Nathan Talbott

Executive Producers:
Hank & John Green
(intro music plays)

Emma and T. Michael: Hey!

Emma: So it's that time of year again where people don robes and funny hats and join Dumbledore in the great hall for the end of the year feast and the awarding of the house cup and that's not right, is it?

T. Michael: No, that's Harry Potter. And so of course we are talking today about graduation. First off, if you're about to graduate, celebratory champagne toast!

Emma: Champagne is yucky.

T. Michael: That is so true. Celebratory high five.

Emma: Yeah!

T. Michael: All right.

Emma and T. Michael: *high five*

T. Michael: That's the ticket.

Emma: If you're graduating now or plan to graduate in the future, we've got some thoughts on that topic. Mike, how did you feel about your graduation?

T. Michael: I actually had this strange feeling at my high school graduation where I was nostalgic for the present. Like, I knew that it was a very important moment in my life, and I knew that I was not gonna see these people again, most of them. And those are things that you usually only understand in retrospect. I was much less feelsy at my college graduation. I had just had a screenplay optioned in Hollywood and so I was just like, "Next stop, easy street, baby!" That turned out to not be the case at all, sadly.

Emma: I think I felt kind of the opposite. Not entirely. At the end of high school, I think I felt a similar sense of nostalgia, but I think there was also an excitement, because there was this next big thing, which was college. The next chapter of one's life. But I think in college it was more bittersweet because college was awesome. 

T. Michael: Yeah.

Emma: It was like, "It's never gonna be this easy again." *laughs*

T. Michael: Yeah.

Emma: So if you could give some advice to your graduating self, if you could get in some sort of a time machine...

T. Michael: Like a chrono-copter?

Emma: Like a chrono-copter.

T. Michael: Gotcha.

Emma: And go back in time and talk to you, graduating either high school or college or both, what would you say to yourself?

T. Michael: I think I would say, "Get some therapy, baby." 'Cause that would have been good. I put that off for too long. I think that's important. The other thing -- and I would say this in the kindest possible way -- "Young Mike, you are not the exception. You know how they say everybody has hard times and struggles and they have to face certain challenges in life? That really does mean everybody, not 'everybody except for you.'" And so I think if you go into life knowing that it is not going to be perfect but it's still worth the candle, you're going to enjoy it a lot more. So basically, to sum up, have low expectations but high standards and you'll enjoy things a lot more, and you'll probably get more done.

Emma: Ok, I would tell myself that it's okay to not have everything figured out. Um, because I definitely didn't. So, I was undeclared, when I went to college I was undeclared for the first two years and when I finished college I took a year off because I didn't know what I wanted to do and I think there is nothing wrong with that. 

T. Michael: No

Emma: It's absolutely fine because I think there's a lot of pressure to have a direction, like immediately. And I think sometimes the direction is not particularly clear! And sometimes there isn't just one direction.

T. Michael: I also think it's really important to know that it is normal and even really good for life to not go according to your plan. Like I think that we have ideals as a kid and dreams as a kid. And it's important to keep the core of those in a way, but I think it's also important to realize that there are many paths to that happiness that you're seeking and that satisfaction that you're seeking. 

So graduation speeches. I actually don't remember the graduation at my graduation. But, um, actually I do remember one because I gave one and it was in the form of a poem- I'm not even joking! But anyway...

Emma: Was this, like,  elementary school graduation? 

T. Michael: No! It was high school graduation

Emma: Did you write the poem?

T. Michael: Yeah! 

Emma: Ok... Okay!

T. Michael: It was about our class and aging up and...

Emma: Did it rhyme? 

T. Michael: Yes it did. Rhyming couplets

Emma: Oh My God! Whaat!? 

T. Michael: "We tried to look cool, from our head to our sneakers, my most vivid memory of 7th grade, is of Derek and Lindsay behind the bleachers"

Emma: Oh my god 

T. Michael: So I guess maybe not rhyming couplets and it's a stretch for that... rhyme!

Emma: That- that doesn't scan very well! 

T. Michael: Yeah... I'm really sorry about that, but I'll tell you what it killed! It killed baby! And that's the ultimate test. Yep. There's this proverb that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. And the things that meant something to me then probably were the things that I was prepared to hear. And- you know- I read my college commencement speech recently, which was given by Danny Elfman, and I was like "I don't remember him saying that at all!" But I remember very vividly him saying other things and I just think because it means different things to you- maybe that's why you don't remember. 

Emma: Yeah... So, I'm gonna read from- We're gonna read our favorite quotes from speeches and Mike's gonna read mine because it makes me cry. And I'm gonna read Mike's- his speech from Danny Elfman. So this was from college

T. Michael: Yes! 

Emma: Okay, so Danny Elfman said "While in pursuing your dream,, you will find that you're going to encounter tons of stuff, both good and bad, that I guarantee you will not expect. But if your path is twisted and uphill and all over the place, you'll still acquire some tools, some skills, some experience, no matter how small, no matter how random, that could add up to something that is above and beyond your original dreams, in ways that may startle and surprise you." That's nice! 

T. Michael: Yeah, you're really good reader. Like I'm not being funny, you're really good at that. 

Emma: Oh thank you!

T. Michael: Okay, this is from John Green's speech at Butler. "You will always be stuck inside of your body, with your consciousness, seeing the world through your own eyes, but the gift and challenge of your education is to see others as they see themselves, to grapple with this mean and crazy and beautiful world in all its baffling complexity."

Emma: Dammit John Green! And that's all we've got for your today! If you wanna leave a comment today: Do you have any advice for grads? We would love to hear from you. If you yourself are graduating let us know in the comment section below and we can have a little chat about it. There's always, uh, a lot of, uh, helpful rapport going on in the comment section and we'd love to hear from you. 

T. Michael: In the meantime I just wanna say to all those graduates, remember life is like a catchphrase, it's whatever you make of it... 

(Outro music)