I’m in Ohio for 24ish hours, because I’m giving a talk at Miami University later today. I’ve given talks at conventions over the years, and some of them have even been successful. I’ve keynoted two PAXes performed at lots of w00tstocks, so speaking to large groups of people is nothing new for me … but this is the first time I’ve actually prepared a talk on a subject, and traveled across the country to give it to a bunch of college students.
While I was working on my talk, which is titled Stop Hitting Yourself: We Need To Talk About Bullying*, I realized that I have been out of college longer that my audience has been alive. So … that’s neat. I was reminded of a moment last year, when I was having a drink with my friend. He asked me where Anne was, and I told him that she was out with her friends, because one of them was celebrating her 50th birthday. I said it like I would have said, “She walked to the corner and came back,” because that’s about how much of a big deal it was. My friend, who I’ve known since we were teenagers, was quiet and thoughtful for a moment, then looked at me and said, “we have become our parents’ weird friends.”
So on the one hand, I embrace and love that I’m 43 and feel like I have at least that many years left in my life. On one hand, I feel like I’ve got a lot of this Adulting thing figured out, and I don’t totally suck at it. On the other hand, if I was 20, would I listen to 43 year-old me? I sure hope so, because I’m about to go speak to a few thousand of 20 year-old mes.
*As I worked on my talk, I kept drifting away from that main topic, and toward addressing the root causes of bullying, which I believe are rooted in unhappiness, so the majority of my talk is what I would have wanted to hear when I was 20. Instead of some old guy coming up and going “Hey don’t do this you damn kids,” it’s more like an old guy saying “I’ve lived a lot, and while there isn’t a cheat guide to being happy, here are some things I’ve figured out that work more often than they don’t. Maybe they’ll work for you, too. Also, don’t be a dick.”
50 thoughts on “I’m not terrified to speak to a bunch of college students. You’re terrified to speak to a bunch of college students.”
Agreed on the root cause and your approach to speaking about it. Will it be recorded and available online at some point do you know?
At the very least, the audio will be recorded by me, and that will be on RFB in the near future. I’m not sure if the university is doing any other recordings.
Excellent. Will be looking forward to hearing it. Thanks!
Great talk tonight, Wil!
And no spoilers, despite the temptation….
Will your talk be posted on line? I would be interested in seeing it.
Speaking as a just barely still 20 something, we listen, and say thank you.
Age has nothing to do with anything I don’t think. It’s the emotions that everyone can relate to. Younger people can learn from elders just as the elders can learn from younger people. Speaking as a college student myself those guys are lucky, I’d totally skip math class to attend your lecture!
I have a good feeling about you connecting to the 20 somethings. 🙂 That you’re going to present it as “I’ve lived a lot, and while there isn’t a cheat guide to being happy, here are some things I’ve figured out that work more often than they don’t. Maybe they’ll work for you, too. Also, don’t be a dick.” is perfect.
“Don’t be a dick” is perhaps the best and most useful advice one can give, particularly to 20-somethings who are being bombarded with more complex instructions daily.
I appreciate “Adult” Wil Wheaton as much as “Big Kid” Wil Wheaton. In my mind, the joy and wonder in your life, that you experience and share with us, makes you a better parent and adult.
[*] Don’t be a dick. The people who do not see and feel joy and wonder early on in life often end up being those bullies.
I am also looking forward to hearing the audio or other recordings. Working with youth from 6th grade through graduates (and I’m old enough to call college age people youth), I am looking to learn some helpful conversation topics to use with them. But also glad that you are getting an opportunity to grow your audience and influence.
Looking forward to hearing you speak tonight. Welcome to Miami 🙂
Whoever ordered this beautiful weather is my new favorite person. I’ll do my best not to let you down.
You did not let anyone down tonight. Thank you for coming to Miami and sharing your stories and insight with us. I also want to say thank you for talking openly about mental health during the Q and A. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder about 2 and a half years ago and I’m still trying to figure it all out. It can be very hard sometimes with all the stigmas that are out there about mental health disorders. I’m sorry I couldn’t really thank you in person afterwards. I was there and I got a picture taken and everything but it’s difficult for me to talk to new people so I hope you see this instead. Thank you again for speaking tonight! 🙂
Totally agree Jenna, I had the chance to thank him for you. 😉 Although I felt like a blabbering idiot doing so.
I was both Wil and the kid that lived inside that house. My therapist just talked to me about divorcing my parents during last week’s session after I told him about my father trying to shoot me on Thanksgiving. The timing of this lecture couldn’t have been better.
I could on… but when I heard someone I respect and can relate too openly admit to seeing a psychiatrist, something flipped internally. It struck a chord, and I’m ready to stop trying to tackle this the “tough-guy” way and get some real help. This feels like a game changing moment for me. Keep up the great work Wil!
Looking forward to seeing you tonight! We’ll be the smiling Seamonkeys (we really need some secret sign like the Freemasons so we can spot each other in public…).
You mean you don’t carry around a tank full of Sea Monkeys like the rest of us? No WONDER we never recognize you….
You are awesome, you will be awesome, you’re heading to being more awesome. Imagine they are all in their underwear…
Give the speech wearing an Oculus Rift.
You’ll be the first, but you won’t be the last.
The VR scene you’ll be viewing?
Shirley Booth, from the 60s series Hazel, folding laundry.
Also, Miami’s not in Ohio, Wil.
This could be the root of your anxiety.
Having said that, I applaud the city of Miami for getting out in front on climate change by relocating to Ohio while there’s still time.
Jesus f’in moses. Spudnuts lives!
How’s the last decade been?
Sunshine and lollypops.
Good to hear, oh spuddiest of nuts.
I’ll be there! Can’t wait to hear your speech!
I hope your trip to Ohio was a little fun for you and not just work. Some of us actually embrace this area. It has a lot to offer.
Wait, Miami University is in Ohio???
Cool, saw post this afternoon, drove to Oxford from Cincinnati to see your lecture. I am an Alumni of MU and lived in Oxford during high school.
I read Just a Geek when I was probably about college age, which I know because I remember lugging it around in my messenger bag with my laptop and too many notebooks and FIRST COLLEGE TEXTBOOKS (before the new, shiny pages lost their sheen to realizing how bloody expensive they are). So as the college student I was who read what you had to say and found in your words, an understanding of myself, I think you’ll be all right, Wil.
If nothing else, just make dick jokes and you’ll be fine. 🙂
As a person who speaks regularly to groups of college students and is 44 – being genuine and showing that you’re speaking to them because you care about their well being as another human being is more important than age.
I think it will be great.
Those moments of realizing you are getting older are really weird. The quality of all aspects of my life seems to be better as I am getting older though. So I don’t mind. Also, advice can’t get much better than “Also, don’t be a dick.”
Agreed. As I approach my “milestone” birthday, I find it very odd that my high school/college decade of life is So. Damn. Far. Away. (like, while I no longer think of myself as a “twenty-something”, HOW can those years be mumble-mutter decades ago?
Becoming “the oldest person in the room” with greater frequency kinda messes up your head. Not that there’s anything wrong with aging, but it is still Just. So. Bizarre.
Hey Wil, I live in the Ohio town you’re hanging out in today and will be at the talk tonight. FYI…I’m your age, and have been trying to figure out how to relate to students around here too(my wife is a professor here, so I might as well try, it’s not like I’m going anywhere for a while…besides, the cows in the surrounding pastures of this town don’t really talk back, but students do). I think the trick is talk to them, not above them. Based on how you lay everything out in your blog(e.g. straight up no B.S.), just be you and you’ll relate fine with them. 🙂 Growing up, I had little pockets here and there where I was bullied, nothing major, but I think just about everyone has a story there so, I’m looking forward to your perspective. Maybe consider relating how your character in Stand By Me had to stand up to Ace for analogy.
Hey Wil you should Come Speak at SBCC i’m Sure it would Be Very inlightning To Hear you Talk Pally.
Oh Wil, you have the cutest hairdo.
Also chiming in to say I’m looking forward to any audio recordings of your speech that might become available. 🙂
FYI…disregard my advice above. You didn’t need it. Totally nailed it! Plus, I think you may have stumbled across your next venture…create an RPG with the quest to find Awesome Mountain. Where we don’t allow bullies or spiders(although you might have to battle them to get there).
Thanks for tonight’s talk; I appreciate your willingness to share. So much of what you said resonated with me and gave me hope. AND, I apologize on behalf of Miami U for the spider.
Wil! I am so sorry I wasn’t able to make it to your talk on campus tonight, it would have been awesome to meet you. I think what you’re doing with your time nowadays is really cool. You’re a walking success story and an inspiration to so many of us that have gone through anxiety and depression. Keep fighting the good fight. I hope to see you some other time.
You are full of awesome!
“Ohio is the Australia of America” great talk!
Terrified? You were sooo good! That one of the biggest bursts of applause followed your comment “don’t be a dick” ™ was heart-warming. Also very cool was the full range of age groups in attendance.
To the lady who asked if there is not actually inherent evil in some people I offer my favorite quote from Ghandi: We will never have a peaceful world until we learn how to raise our children.
Wish I could have made it last night. I heard it was amazing!
Wil, I’m coming up on 25 years old and I think your voice will definitely reach the students well. I’m sure many of them grew up with you as a hero just as I did and will take what you say to heart. If there’s anyone who can reach students, I think it’s you and I hope you put your talk up here so I can watch. Thanks for being awesome.
My wife and I attended your lecture last night and really enjoyed it. A lot of what you had to say hit close to home for both of us regarding several topics and brought up a lot of strong emotion, painful memories of bullying and abuse and abuse that had been suppressed, along with discussion topics we want to have with our children about bullying.
I also wanted to thank you for talking about your struggles with mental illness. My wife struggled with depression without getting help and it almost cost her her life. Although I knew that she had become extremely unhappy, I didn’t know the cause. I later learned that she had spent months plotting suicide and went as far as writing a suicide note before finally asking for help. Now that she is on medication, she is back to being happy again.
Wil, love that you’re rockin’ that Calatrava hairstyle!
Love your talk, too!
“I’ve lived a lot, and while there isn’t a cheat guide to being happy, here are some things I’ve figured out that work more often than they don’t. Maybe they’ll work for you, too. Also, don’t be a dick.”
–Words to live by, haha. Well done.
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