He turned down an entry-level financial job to struggle as an artist in New York. He then rebuffed a role in a Fox sitcom so he could focus on his own show, which at the time paid nothing.
But as actor Charlie Day films his 10th season of the hit comedy "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," he looks back on his career with no regrets. He shared these thoughts on Sunday when he delivered the commencement speech at his alma mater, Merrimack College.
Actually, there does seem to be one thing he might do differently.
"I could not have made a better decision," Day told the Class of 2014 in North Andover, Mass., before adding, "Well, maybe not the apartment thing. "I think I could've looked a little longer. You'll find better apartments. Stay away from the trash area."
Day's first digs following his graduation were in a basement apartment next to a trash chute that was filled with cockroaches. He lived there while auditioning for roles and busing tables to make rent.
Then he was offered a role on the short-lived sitcom "Life on a Stick." It lasted 13 episodes. With its current contract, "Sunny" is slated to run 12 seasons.
"Creating the job, as opposed to waiting for it to be offered to me, was the way to go," he told the graduates. "Don't wait for your break; make your break. Go make it happen for yourself."
The comedian shared a number of life lessons in his nearly 20-minute speech. However he saved most of those for the end and reserved the beginning to capture the audience's attention with a number of funny anecdotes. Day also joked that with his honorary degree from Merrimack, he joined the ranks of Mike Tyson and Kermit the Frog.
"Although I acknowledge that 'Dr. Charlie Day' sounds like some type of club DJ," he told the crowd. "I assure you I intend to go by this title from now on."
Merrimack published video of the commencement speech to YouTube on Tuesday. It has more than 200,000 views and 2,100 likes – and many are writing that they were impressed with Day's words.
"But seriously how grounded and true to himself is this man?" commented YouTuber T.W. Zombek. "An inspiration and a hero. He deserves every bit of success he has earned, and I hope his stories similarly inspire future shapers of the world (myself included) to get out there and achieve."
WARNING: Some offensive language: