I’m feeling inspired and reflective from the greatest graduation speeches of all time. I’ve written about the four truths from Joyce DiDonato, the story of success from Ellen DeGeneres, the importance of choosing kindness from Jeff Bezos, and the lesson of perseverance from Former President Obama. This month, I’m writing about Shonda Rhymes’ commencement speech at Dartmouth College in 2014.
The famous television producer, Shonda Rhymes, gave the 2014 commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. Her frank, straightforward style of speaking was an inspiration to all the students, family, and faculty in the audience.
Rhymes discusses dreams. She mentions that even though dreams are nice to have, they are only just dreams. Without the hard work and determination, they will never be more than just a dream. She uses her own experience as an example. She never dreamed of being the famous television producer she is today. She wanted to with a Nobel Prize like the author Toni Morrison. She worker like crazy to make that happen. She realized she couldn’t be Toni Morrison because that person already exists and wasn’t about to give up her title anytime soon. This made her realize, you can either spend your time dreaming, or you could do.
Lesson two from Rhymes is that the day after graduation is the worst day ever. College is the best time of your life and the real world is scary. To the rest of the world, once you graduate with your degree, you’re now at the bottom of the heap. You may think you’re taking the world by storm, that all doors will be open to you, but you’re wrong.
This all sounds daunting and quite the opposite of inspirational, but Rhymes goes on to clarify her point. Every graduate sitting in that audience was lucky. She wanted to remind them to have perspective. Not everyone in the world has the opportunity to earn an Ivy League degree and live the life they lived for the past four years. Now is their time to pay it forward. She urges these recent graduates to find a cause they love and devote their time to it.
The last lesson she gives is that it’s okay to not have it all together. Many people ask her “How do you do it all?” and her answer is simple: she doesn’t. It’s a gentle reminder that no matter how successful you become, there will always be times when you don’t succeed. And that is okay. It keeps you humble and allows you to take a step back and look around. What are you doing that you could be doing better? There is something to learn with every curveball life throws at you.
Her final words are “be brave, be amazing, be worthy.”