Many commencement speeches recommend graduates take on a great challenge of the future. In author Anna Quindlen's speech at Mount Holyoke College, she implores us to do the opposite: give up on being perfect to take hold of being yourself.
Photo by Brian Snelson.
Quindlen's speech is so rife with great words, it's hard to pick just one quote out. And although the "march to a different drum" theme may sound cliched, we may need regular reminders that this is our life's work: to make it all up as we go along and resist the constant temptation and pressure to imitate and fall into lockstep.
[N] othing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
Otherwise, she warns, when one day in the future something momentous happens to you and you look into the centre of yourself, if you find you've met all the expectations of you everyone's ever had, "chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where your core ought to be".
One last quote, to help separate the mask from your true self:
Remember yourself, from the days when you were younger and rougher and wilder, more scrawl than straight line. Remember all of yourself, the flaws and faults as well as the many strengths.
You can read the entire, highly recommended speech below. Thanks tonynyc!
Anna Quindlen's Commencement Speech [Mount Holyoke College]