I don’t know that I’ve ever sat and read a commencement address before. As usual, this new experience comes to me at the hands of the lovely readers of Cannonball Read (I think? Maybe Goodreads?), who I’m pretty sure read all the things. Well, certainly some one reads everything.
Fighting a nasty sinus infection, I decided the inherent pick me up of a commencement address was in order and I luckily had this one ready to go. Perhaps the only thing I am jealous of people who attend big “name” universities is that they are the only ones who get really awesome commencement address speakers. My undergraduate graduation (which was a December graduation at that) had a local investigative reporter and while her speech was interesting, it didn’t have a lot of “wow”. Graduate school was even less interesting than that.
What I like about Rowling’s speech (and the fun line drawing illustrations which accompany it in text form) is how simple her message is: embrace failure and use your imagination. These are two incredibly important pieces of advice for young people entering the real world, many of whom had – as she rightly pointed out – not dealt with a lot of failure or adversity on their path to Harvard (or so one would think). I never would have expected my first ten years post grad to be so entirely full of failures, and she’s right – my imagination is what got me to the next thing each time.
So if you find yourself in need of a good talk, you could do a lot worse than some insightful words from J. K. Rowling.