One of my favorite shows is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and one of the creators, writers and actors gave a commencement speech at his Alma Mater. In 1998 Charlie Day graduated from Merrimack College and just a few days ago he returned to give his epic speech to the graduating class.
Filled with life lessons and of course, humor, Day entertained the crowd with tales about his journey from receiving a diploma on that stage to being where he is today. He made the typical college party jokes and told a tale of a young Charlie who, in his freshman year, played a prank on the, “third floor boys” by cutting their shower curtains at waist length.
He was given the honor of receiving a Ph.D and joked that it was a high honor for someone, “who has made a living from pretending to eat cat food.”
When talking about a job he was offered after college at a financial firm and weighing it with the option to go to New York and try to make things work for himself he said: “I had a sense that maybe I could create an opportunity that was better than the ones offered to me.” He chose to go to New York where he bussed and lived in an apartment next to a heap of garbage.
He said that he would probably fail sooner or later at the job at the financial firm but he would have rather failed doing something that he loved, and something he was great at.
He then started to film a home video type show with his two friends Rob McElhenny and Glenn Howerton (the other two creators, writers and actors in It’s Always Sunny). At the same time he was offered a spot on the new ABC sitcom, Life on a Stick.
“Do I do ‘Life on a Stick’? Or do I make another bet on myself? And this time, my friends too,” Day said, remembering that time. “Do I make no money?”
He ultimately decided to make the bet on himself and his friends. He made the point that Life on a Stick lasted one season and thirteen episodes. It’s Always Sunny is about to become the longest running sitcom in history with over 10 years completed. He then gave advice to the graduates to make bets on themselves; to do what they loved.
“Don’t wait for your break, make your break,” Day said. “Go make it happen for yourself.”
The last thing he advised was to not be afraid of failure. Failing is inevitable but nothing will hold you back more than believing that you are not great. More than anything, fail doing the thing you love.