Monday, June 11, 2012

You are not special

Recently at Wellesley High School commencement ceremony, an English teacher by the name of David McCullough, Jr. gave a speech to the graduates. If the speech has not gone viral yet (it has 557,000+ hits. I am not sure the definition of "Viral Video"), I am sure it will soon. 

He gives great advice. It sounds bad at first, you are not special, but he means well. And I agree. We have been told our whole lives that you are special. You are different. You are the best. But we all can't be the best, because then we would all be alike. And we certainly are not all alike. It is a tough pill to swallow at first. But listen to the whole speech. It will leave a lasting impression. 

An excerpt I like: 
...I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don't bother with work you don't believe in any more than you would a spouse you're not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison. Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read... read all the time... read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you'll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.
It's funny as I watched this speech, I could see various people in my life giving me the same words of advice. Whether it was at high school graduation, or college or even now. Everyone encouraging the same message of going out and doing things for more than just the satisfaction of doing whatever it is, but doing something for the experience and to learn about yourself and others. 

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