Home » Oprah Winfrey’s Commencement Address at Colorado College (Full Transcript)

Oprah Winfrey’s Commencement Address at Colorado College (Full Transcript)

So I live in this space of radical love and gratitude. Truly, I feel the most beautiful life that you can imagine. I sit around trying to think of who could have a better life. And I will tell you whatever you imagine my life to be like, I wonder what Oprah’s doing right now. It’s always ten times better than whatever you think.

It’s true, and it’s not because I have wealth, which is great. Money is fabulous, I love it. And I get a lot of attention, that’s also good, sometimes.

But it’s because I had appreciation for the small steps, the seeds that were planted, the map and flow of my life that unfolded, because I was paying attention. You have to pay attention to your life, because it is speaking to you all the time.

And the bumps in the road, and the failures that pointed me in a new direction and led me to a path made clear. That is what I’m wishing for you today, your own path made clear. And I know that there is a lot of anxiety, a lot about what the future holds, and how much money you’re going to make.

But your anxiety does not contribute one iota to your progress, I’m here to tell you. It does the opposite.

“Look at how many times you worried and you were upset and you didn’t think you were going to make it through the block”.

I got that text a couple months ago, and here you are today, you made it. And I’m here to tell you that you’re going to be more than okay.

So take a deep breath with me right now, and repeat this: “Everything is always working out for me”.

I want to hear it: ‘everything is always working out for me’. That’s my mantra, make it yours. Everything is always working out for me, because it is, and it has, and it will continue to be as you forge and discover your own path.

But first you do need a job. Yep, you need your job. And may I say it does not have to be your life’s mission, not your greatest passion, not your most fulfilled self, but a job that pays your rent. Yes, and lets you move out of your parents’ house. Look who’s applauding.

Because yes, they are tired of taking care of you, and are hoping that the CC fine education you’ve received is going to pay off. And it will, I promise you, in ways that today you cannot even imagine.

For years, I’ve been talking about and I’ve done a lot of graduations, that I do a lot of lecturing, talking at the table, exchanges with the girls, and we talk about passion, and purpose, and realizing your dream. And I realized, that I was confusing them, and their expectations were out of whack.

One of my daughter girls who graduated two years ago, came out of school with a job that she previously interned. She bought her own used car, has an apartment she shares with Ron, only one roommate, all with no help from me.

And she’d only been working about six months, she calls me and says “Mama, they want to give me a promotion, but I don’t think I want the promotion. Because I don’t think it fulfills my purpose”.

And I said your purpose right now is to keep that job. Your purpose is to do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do. I borrowed that line from the Great Debaters.

So here’s the truth: for years I had a job and through that job doing a lot of things that I actually didn’t want to do, I got demoted and discovered my life’s calling.

So I was on the air as a reporter. My job ended when I was 28 years old. But I’ve been working in radio, got my first job in radio at 16, was hired in television at 19. And it was a job, because every day I felt like I don’t know if this is really what I’m supposed to be doing. But my father was like, you better keep the job.

So when I was 28, it wasn’t working out for me on the news because I was too emotional. I’d go to cover stories and cry because people lost their houses or lost their children.

I was told that I was going to be taken off the evening news, and put on a talk show. That was a demotion for me at the time, that actually worked out for me.

So I would like to say that many times… many times there are things that look like failure in your life. And I want to clear up, because four years at every graduation I’ve said there’s no such thing as failure, well it is. I’ve said it’s no such thing as failure, it’s just like pointing you into a different direction, it does, and it indeed does.

But in the moment when you fail, it really feels bad, and it’s embarrassing, and it’s bad. And it’s going to happen to you, if you keep living. But I guarantee you, it also will pass and you will be fine.

Why? Because everything is always working out for you.

So I realize this, when I was in the struggle of my life. I tried to build a network at the same time I was still trying to do a show. And I did not have the right leadership. Everything is about having people in the right positions to support you.

And so I had to take a good long look at myself, when everything in the media because all of my mistakes are on the evening news or the CNN crawl, I can’t do anything privately.

So in every news story, when every story is about struggle struggle struggle struggle… I had to have a talk with myself and say ‘what is this really about… what is this here to show you’, my favorite question when in crisis, what is this here to teach or show me.

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