My twins graduated from 8th grade last week. Like most mothers, I’m shocked my babies are suddenly grown up and ready to enter high school.
I’ve given out so much advice to my sons over the years, that anything more I’d add to their Daily Mom Advice quota is going to be a waste. But I’ve discovered that hearing the same thing from a different source often makes it sink in.
So today, I’m sharing some fun and meaningful commencement speeches that I think all of us, no matter what age we are, can appreciate. They’re a bit long, so I’m condensing some of the important advice after the video. And at the end, I have a list of some popular books to give graduates!
First up is the hilarious Ellen DeGeneres (and the reason behind my blog title):
When I was younger I thought success was something different. I thought success was to be famous, become a star, drive nice cars….My idea of success is different today. Definition of success changes. Success is to live your life with integrity and to not give in to peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not. Success is to be honest and to contribute in some way… Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that…
Life is like a one big Mardi Gras but instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain, and if they like what they see you’ll have more beads than you’ll know what do with.
May 11, 2009
Second is the talented and also quite funny, JK Rowling:
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.
June 05, 2008
And lastly, the awesome Oprah Winfrey:
The lesson here is clear, and that is, if you’re hurting, you need to help somebody ease their hurt. If you’re in pain, help somebody else’s pain. And when you’re in a mess, you get yourself out of the mess helping somebody out of theirs. And in the process, you get to become a member of what I call the greatest fellowship of all, the sorority of compassion and the fraternity of service.
But when you do good, I hope you strive for more than just the good feeling that service provides, because I know this for sure, that doing good actually makes you better. So, whatever field you choose, if you operate from the paradigm of service, I know your life will have more value and you will be happy.
Stanford University, Sunday, June 15, 2008
Recommended books for graduates:
Any age from K – College: Oh, The Places You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss
8th grade graduates: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Dangerous Book for Boys or The Daring Book for Girls by Conn Iggulden and Andrea J. Buchanan, respectively.
High School & College graduates: Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
101 Tips for Graduates: A Code of Conduct for Success and Happiness in Your Professional Life by Susan Morem
Live It, Dream It, Do It: Turn the Life You’re Living Into the Life You Want by Leslie Levine
Readers, what is your favorite piece of advice for my sons and the graduates in your life?