As much as I love venting to friends or family when I’m having a challenging time at work, sometimes, well-intentioned advice can go awry. This doesn’t always have to be the other person’s fault. We’re all guilty of complaining a hundred and six times about something that’s on our mind or feeling stressed out about something we can’t quite put our fingers on.
It might be because I’m so close to graduation (did you hear that high-pitch scream?), but as a result of feeling both stressed out about my dissertation and nervous about the same types of problems, I’ve been watching a ton of graduation speeches on YouTube. They’ve been surprisingly therapeutic, and I’ve linked some of my favourites for you to go through when you’re looking for a little motivation boost!
I am yet to meet a person who doesn’t love Ellen, and this speech highlights all the reasons why. She’s the perfect example of what it means to meet tragedy with optimism, and be better for it.
“I mean, it was so important for me to lose everything because I found out what the most important thing is, is to be true to yourself. Ultimately, that’s what’s gotten me to this place. I don’t live in fear, I’m free; I have no secrets and I know I’ll always be ok, because no matter what, I know who I am”.
Like many people, I first saw Mindy on the TV series The Office, and I fell in love almost immediately. Before her, I had yet to see third-culture Indian women represented on TV, let alone do it so intelligently and hilariously. While diversity on screen may be more common now, she was one of the first to pave the way. Here’s her speaking at her alma mater.
“You have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it’s not real. You need to be your own cheerleader now, because there isn’t a room full of people waiting with pom?poms to tell you, “You did it! We’ve been waiting all this time for you to succeed!” So I’m giving you permission to root for yourself. And while you’re at it, root for those around you, too.”
I first discovered author George Saunders as an undergraduate still getting to grips with writing: his short stories are both funny and heart-breaking, and he’s won national accolades for his work. His speech has incredibly useful advice that I like to go back to time and again:
Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet. It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.”
I’ll leave you with Zadie Smith, another author I love and whose speech, like Saunders’ calls for us to try and be kinder with each other, as a way to be kinder to ourselves.
“Walk down these crowded streets with a smile on your face. Be thankful you get to walk so close to other humans. It's a privilege. Don't let your fellow humans be alien to you, and as you get older and perhaps a little less open than you are now, don’t assume that exclusive always and everywhere means better.”