It's that time of year again, when students don their caps and gowns and celebrate four years of hard work and dedication by getting advice in the form of inspiring commencement speeches. One such address by Jane Lynch of Glee was particularly profound this week.
Jane Lynch spoke to the students at Smith College, a women's liberal arts school in Northampton, Massachusetts. The institution holds a particularly special place in Jane's heart because it is the alma mater of her wife, Dr. Laura Embry, and it is in the town where the two wed in 2010.
The actress spoke to the students about her experience with improvisation with the Second City comedy troupe in Chicago early in her career. She mentioned a phrase often used in improv, "Yes, and." The words, according to Lynch, allow an actor to accept whatever the other comedian has to throw at them.
She encouraged the Smith graduates to employ this same philosophy as they continue in their lives. She stated, "In order for our lives to go forward, in order to engage fully in life, we need to be willing and able to accept what is right in front of us. Whatever it is, the good, the bad, the thrilling, the heartbreaking, every emotion, occurrence, event, person, place or thing, you will experience them all. That’s the 'yes' I’m talking about."
She continued, "The acceptance and embrace of it with all your heart and doing something with it, that’s the 'and.' You accept influence and then you exert influence. You can’t make a cloudy day a sunny day, but can embrace it and decide it’s going to be a good day after all."
She urged them not to avoid or deny the bad times that will inevitably happen in down the road. Instead, she said, "Step up to them courageously and embrace them. Allow these experiences to permeate your being and weave them all into the fabric of your life... If life gives you lemons, grab it by the horns and drive. Yes I just mixed three metaphors, remember I was a 'C' student."
She also advised the students to stop and take in what is happening around them right now. "If I could do so much of my early life over, I would have taken more moments like this to breathe. I would have spent more time focusing on what was right in front of me, instead of recoiling from what is because it didn’t look or feel exactly as I imagined it."
She concluded, "My advice to you — live in the moment. Stay fluid and roll with those changes. Life is just a big extended improvisation. Embrace the ever changing, ever evolving world with the best rule I’ve ever found. Say 'Yes, and.'"
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