“You’re Not Special” – Reality Or Too Harsh?
Over the weekend a commencement address by David McCullough Jr. at Wellesley High School in Maryland gathered quite a bit of national attention. McCullough told the graduates in-effect they were "not special" no matter how well they did in third grade soccer or how well they did in high school debate. McCullough pointed out that there will be 37,000 valedictorians this year so even the best in the class was one of the multitudes.
I think McCullough was correct in telling the students they were not special. High school graduation is a point in life where the gun of personal achievement is reloaded. Graduation is a place from which you either reload your dreams and work towards them or you have achieved them. In most cases it is a graduates choice. In yesterday's opinion piece I wrote about Dawn Loggins the young lady who worked a total of four hours a day as a custodian to work her way through high school and now is headed to Harvard. THAT is a special person!
Even the high school graduates with all the honors find they have to do it all over again in college. The shock really sets in when with college diploma in hand some college graduates quickly learn that life is hard work and most of the time it is not fair.
One parent at this Wellesly High School graduation said she thought the address was fine but inappropriate. She felt the speech should have been more 'uplifting'. That speech dear lady will be delivered by the President and First Lady at the various universities that have requested their services. I for one would prefer that my child learn the truth from a respected adult. It might make enough of an impression on a child to motivate him or her to work harder and set some realistic goals instead of later bemoaning "nobody told me".
With the tough economic times being faced by everyone and the spiraling cost of college I think we are all learning we are not special but blessed to be Americans with more opportunity than any other people on the planet.
McCullough ended his speech with,
"Selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special - because everyone is. Congratulations, good luck. Make for yourselves, please for your sake and ours, extraordinary lives."
I applaud David McCullough Jr. for an outstanding commencement address.
Watch McCullough's commencement address: http://youtu.be/Ds5wBOPKcps
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