Being a twenty-something in today's world has its perks just as it has its pitfalls. We are technology-oriented, pushing boundaries and glass ceilings, making creative decisions and solutions. But there is only so much we can do before life pushes back. Being a twenty-something means we are mostly just starting "adulting" - paying bills, finding a job we can tolerate, dating and maybe getting married.... but what happens when nothing seems to work out? You hate your job, money is tight, you're just plain unhappy. Well, Peter Dinklage - now a world-famous actor in Game of Thrones, no less - put our fears and dreams into one of the most motivating and beautiful messages I have heard yet. His speech at the Bennington College graduation in 2012 is heartwarming, inspiring and exactly what every twenty-something needs to hear. Click here to listen to the speech, click here to read the full transcript or read the partial transcript below:
"When I was 29, I told myself the next acting job I get no matter what it pays, I will from now on, for better or worse, be a working actor. So I quit my position at the Professional Examination Services. My friends really weren’t happy about that, because it was so easy to find me when I worked there. Work – that was the only place I had the internet. This was at the beginning of the Internet.
And now I didn’t have either the internet or a cell phone or a job. But something good happened.
I got a little pink theater job in a play called Imperfect Love. Which led to a film called 13 Moons with the same writer. Which led to other roles. Which led to other roles. And I’ve worked as an actor ever since.
But I didn’t know that would happen. At 29, walking away from data processing, I was terrified.
Ten years in a place without heat. Six years at a job, I felt stuck in. Maybe I was afraid of change. Are you?
My parents didn’t have much money. But they struggled to send me to the best schools. And one of the most important things they did for me — and graduates, maybe you don’t want to hear this – is that once I graduated, I was on my own. Financially, it was my turn.
Parents are applauding, graduates are not. But this made me very hungry. Literally. I couldn’t be lazy. Now I’m totally lazy but back then, I couldn’t be.
And so at 29, in a very long last, I was in the company of the actors and writers and directors I’d start out that first year, that first day after school. I was. I am by their sides.
Raise the rest of your life to meet you. Don’t search for defining moments because they will never come. Well, the birth of your children, OK, of course, forget about it, that’s just six months. My life is forever changed, that’s most defining moment ever. But I’m talking about in the rest of your life and most importantly in your work. The moments that define you have already happened. And they will already happen again. And it passes so quickly.
So please bring each other along with you. Everyone you need is in this room. These are the shiny more important people.
Sorry, it sucks after graduation. It really does. I mean, I don’t know. At least it did for me. But that’s the only thing I know.
You just get a bit derailed. But soon something starts to happen. Trust me. A rhythm sets in. Just like it did after your first few days here. Just try not to wait until like me, you’re 29 before you find it. And if you are, that’s fine too. Some of us never find it. But you will, I promise you. You are already here. That’s such an enormous step all its own. You’ll find your rhythm, or continue the one you have already found.
Now I tell the story, because the world might say you are not allowed to yet. I waited a long time out in the world before I gave myself permission to fail. Please, don’t even bother asking, don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it.
What did Beckett say? “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Bennington Class of 2012, the world is yours. Treat everyone kindly and light up the night.
TEARS. Am I right? Now I hope you take his words to heart - treat everyone kindly and LIGHT UP THE NIGHT.