This time of year, there are many commencement speeches, in fact no fewer than 37,000 which is the number of high schools alone in the U.S.
But the speech by Wellesley High English teacher David McCullough Jr. is blunt and honest because he told students they “are not special.”
Here is a brief exerpt from his speech:
“Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians … 37,000 class presidents … 92,000 harmonizing altos … 340,000 swaggering jocks … 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs,” he said.
He added: “Even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.”
McCullough makes a statement on parents who overdo it in a modern society focused on collecting achievements. “You’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble wrapped … feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie.” But he adds in a video on Wellesley Channel TV YouTube page, “You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. … We have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.”
The point is that learning is wonderful, mistakes happen and experience makes you stronger. All time is borrowed so make the most of it. Work backwards as to how you would want people to talk about you in this short time we call life.
You Only Live Once, but as the speaker says, that doesn’t mean you have to get YOLO as a tattoo.
Have a great week!
Tina Nocera, Founder