The actress kicked off her remarks at her alma mater by congratulating her former professors and the families of the graduates, before launching into a list of advice she lives by.
“In all honestly I have never wanted to do anything less, and I have never regretted saying yes to anything more than speaking to all of you,” Garner told the class. “Writing this speech has made me examine my life choices. It has made me gain five pounds … I have experienced an unhealthy level of self-loathing. I have even hated on my friend, Denison alum [actor] Steve Carrell. I feel like he graduated 10 years before me, he should have had to do this first. I mean, he was in ‘The Office.'”
She went on to thank a few theater professors who became mentors to her, then said she was specifically asked to give some advice “as a woman in the world,” because “that would be a good idea.”
“Don’t walk down the Grand Canyon to see what it looks like from the bottom.”
“Don’t smoke and don’t vape … now that you’re going to be adulting, it’s not cute.”
“Nothing looks better in your 50s than sunscreen in your 20s.”
“When it comes to Halloween costumes, go funny over sexy. Why would you dress like a flirty nurse when you could be a mailbox?”
“Mixed signals are not mixed signals, they’re a no.”
“Impose self-discipline around three things; Have a book on your bedside table at all times, and read it, obviously, be in charge of your consumption of social media, and foster a sense of humor about yourselves or otherwise you run the risk of being boring.”
“If you’re a woman, and pardon me for being binary for just a second, the stage has been set. The world is yours to grab. Go out and get it, girl.”
Finally, Garner advised, “stay close to your friends from college.”
“You’ve just spent four years hanging out with them, that history is invaluable,” she said.
Garner graduated from Denison in 1994, or as she called it, “one Ariana Grande ago.”