Before the new season of It’s Always Sunny begins and my blog fills with exciting reviews and news updates about upcoming episodes, I want to take the time to talk about something I find to be quite inspirational. Now, when one looks at the characters within this program I’m sure words like “intelligent,” “wise,” and “inspirational,” aren’t ones that quickly come to mind. However, Charlie Day recently gave a commencement speech to Merrimack College’s graduating class of 2014. Having graduated from Merrimack himself in 1998, when I was a mere three years old (scary), Mr. Day returned this year to speak to the students about his journey through life.
Over the course of his speech, Day highlights three main points about how he traveled from student to success story–all the while lacing his tales with his natural wit, as expected. He explains how after college he had three choices: accept a job at the Fidelity Corporation (something he really knew little about), work in Boston to establish a basis for his move to the city, or move right to NYC to pursue his acting career. Leaving behind the security of the first two options, he chose the latter. He worked busing tables, lived in poor conditions, and faced failure on a regular basis. This failure however, is where his first lesson comes into play: “Be willing to fail, let yourself fail. Fail in the way and the place where you would want to fail. Fail, pick yourself up, and fail again. Because without this struggle, what is your success anyway?” Failure is an aspect of life that is inevitable. I will fail, you all will fail, all successful people have failed–often. So, if it’s to happen, why not have it happen in the place where you want to overcome it? Take chances, don’t fear the break down that comes from unsuccessful ventures, and keep pushing towards your dreams. Success means nothing without the lessons that were learned in the process of achieving it. Day then goes on to talk about his experience with It’s Always Sunny.
After a few years taking sub-par acting positions, Charlie explains how he was to be offered a role on a network television program. However, while awaiting confirmation, he took life into his own hands and started producing a make-shift program with his friends (Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney) in his apartment. Using friends as camera & sound men, they began developing the show that would become It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
He then had another choice: accept the network job, or try and run with his own show. He took a risk, and declined the job. The three then went on to continue with It’s Always Sunny,
making more episodes and trying to sell to executives. The program he turned down lasted for one season; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
has run nine seasons and will soon become one of the longest running sitcoms in history. He explains this story’s lesson by saying, “You have to trust your own voice, your own ideas, your honesty, your vulnerability, and through this you will find your way.” You must create your own
opportunities; don’t sit around and wait for the world to hand you the things you want. If there is something you crave, that you’re passionate about–do all that you can to ensure you get it. Trust your own abilities to succeed. If you want something, take it. Charlie’s final point touches upon criticism from others. He discusses how scared he was to come make this very speech, fearing he wasn’t a strong enough intellectual or public speaker. He looked at hateful comments on videos of speeches made by fellow celebrities and saw how critical the people on the internet were. Charlie then relays the realization he had about himself in relation to his critics, with arguably the most well received line of the speech: “I don’t give a shit.
” He goes on to say, “you cannot let a fear of failure, or a fear of comparison, or a fear of judgement stop you from doing what’s going to make you great.” No matter what you do in life there are going to be those who have something negative to say. This is especially prominent today, with the age of technology and social media providing aggressors with an easy outlet to attack. It is incredibly important to always remember that the negative words of other people mean nothing. They don’t affect your talents, your spirit, and they shoudn’t affect your self-esteem. Do what makes you happy. Fail, succeed, be passionate, know who you are, and don’t give a rat’s ass about those who criticize. My final point: Regardless of the speech’s content I find the act in itself to be commendable. Much of Hollywood portrays to the public ideas of materialism, individualism, and artificiality. I can confidently say that there are many people in the television and film industries who probably would have declined an opportunity to speak to a similar audience. They may be “too busy” or “don’t like public speaking.” Both are crocks of shit, if I’m being frank. Whether you have the integrity and success of Oprah Winfrey, or the outlandish behavior of Miley Cyrus, I believe that being a celebrity comes with responsibilities. People need to start using their fame more frequently to reach out to the public, specifically those of younger generations, and teach them lessons about life. You don’t need to be a renowned philanthropist to do this; some of the best lessons come from the failure and ridicule of life itself. As a result of this self-centered aura surrounding many of Hollywood’s elite, I find it comforting and inspiring when I see things like Charlie Day’s speech. He’s probably not the first person who comes to mind when one thinks of eloquence or poise, but he has something to say. And due to the fact the he took the time to say it, and attempts to inspire his Merrimack descendants–I applaud him, and I hope you all do as well.