Over the weekend, the 38-year-old singer nabbed an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music alongside rapper Missy Elliot and Hamilton composer Alex Lacamoire.
"Oh, y'all messed up giving me this award. I thought I had a big head before," Timberlake quipped at the start of his speech. "This is surreal... Can't tell me nothing now! I'm a doctor!"
"When I was young I felt like a weirdo. I felt like I didn't belong," he said later in his speech. "I look around this room and I feel like I found all the rest of the weirdos. You're all right here! You know what I mean? It only took me 38 years."
Timberlake had to pause during his speech when he got emotional, declaring, "I said I wasn't going to cry!" before praising his wife, Jessica Biel, and his mom, Lynn Bomar Harless.
"There are so many people that have conspired for me to be standing here today. My wife who inspires me every day," he said, as cameras panned to Biel who mouthed, "I love you," to her husband. "I won't tell you to get married or not get married, but, I will say this to you, find someone who is better than you and convince them to spend their life with you."
"... It's hard to even put into words what you've given me and how much you've sacrificed for me to have the opportunities that I've had. I'm so lucky to be your son," Timberlake gushed as his mom cried in the audience. "I love you so much... This is probably the best Mother's Day gift I could ever give you."
Timberlake ended his speech by speaking directly to the students about what failure means.
"You’re defined by what you define failure as. It’s not a thing if it leads you to your success. It’s all part of the journey," Timberlake said. "You have to appreciate those moments. Because what happens right after you feel like you failed is who you are and who you will continue to be... You have to dare to suck. You will never make something great if you are afraid that it's going to suck, that it's going to fail... Your tenacity and your ability to define who you are through those failures will be your ultimate success."
"... I couldn't even put this on a bucket list because I just didn't even think it would ever be possible," he continued. "I hope that in the years to come, two things will happen: one, I will represent you in the way that you most hope for. And two, I look around and see this graduating class, meet me at the studio. I want to see y’all! We're working together."
Timberlake celebrated his accomplishment on Instagram, encouraging others to follow their dream alongside a pic of himself in his cap and gown.
"No Dream is too big!!! Keep chasing!!! Trust me... I’m a DOCTOR!! ???," he joked. "But, for real... THANK YOU to @berkleecollege for this incredible honor -- I’m very humbled and grateful."
Biel celebrated her husband in the comments section, writing, "Literally every hat looks good on you, but this is my favorite one. ❤️"