Thursday, June 07, 2012

"You Are Not Special"



I recently enjoyed reading something so extraordinary, so singular, that I feel an overwhelming need to bring it to your attention. It is the commencement address given by a high school English teacher, David McCullough, to the class of 2012 at Wellesley High School.

I would give my left nut to have written this.

(Statements such as the above are sometimes said in haste and don't truly reflect the sincerity of the person saying it - especially if it's a woman - but I mean it. It is good enough to cost one, so long as I have two.)

Please do yourself a favor and set aside a few minutes to read this amazing piece of literature.

You Are Not Special

(I should note that the public reaction to Mr. McCullough's speech has not universally matched my reaction. While it seems, from my perspective, that a majority appreciate his words, there are some lackluster individuals, without a sense of humor nor particularly efficient reading comprehension, who have said unkind things concerning him. It should go without saying, but I feel the need to say it, anyway, just in case I can save you some grief: those people are dolts and should be avoided at all costs. They will drain delight from your life as surely as David Ortiz removes medium-speed fastballs down the middle from Fenway.)

Soon, With Something Else (But It Won't Be Better, I Assure You.)



21 comments:

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

I loved it

Barbara Shallue said...

Jim, thanks for sharing this with us. I love it - just wish I'd had it to give to my kids when they graduated from HS. Sending it to them now, anyway. It echoes what I told them - do something for the sake of doing it, not for any other reward. That's why I never paid them for good grades. I told them the learning and the grade should be reward enough.
(To be honest, this sounded like your writing!)

Stephen Hayes said...

I very wise man, this Mr. McCullough. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I wonder how many of those listening that day will heed his advice?

Jeni said...

Yep! His words certainly are the truth and it may come as a very rude awakening though to some who heard it, others who read it too that's how it is!
Very good read which was however, something special.

Craig said...

Excellent!

Pure truth, this - "we [Americans] have of late . . . come to love accolades more than genuine achievement."

This is why I loved grad school - for the first time in my life (or at least since third grade or so), I was in a place where my classmates cared more about learning than what kind of job (read: how much money) this class was gonna get 'em. The absolute bane of my undergrad existence was the guy (and there were many of 'em, in every class I ever took) who would raise his hand and ask, "Is this gonna be on the test?" 'Cuz, you know, you wouldn't want to learn one f***ing thing more than is absolutely necessary to get an 'A' (and thus, you know, that fast-track six-figure job with GM). . .

But, just looking at this morning's standings, it would seem that yer Sawx would be a more apt comparison for a 50% divorce rate than the Orioles. Just sayin'. . .

haphazardlife said...

I can imagine that particular speech didn't go over too well with some people.

How dare he say they aren't special?

Good man!

Joan said...

Wow, what a speech. I thought it was great. We could all listen to his words of wisdom at any age.

Uncle Skip, said...

It's all kind of relative, isn't it?
I mean don't anybody tell me that my grandson isn't special.
By the same token, that's not going to put a roof over his head or food on the table when he's old enough to take care of himself.
A fella over in England posted earlier today about feeling self-centered (he called it selfish). Just this year he's received the MBE, the International Presidents Award from Lions Clubs International, and in a couple of weeks will carry the Olympic Torch. After dwelling on those for a bit, he decided his biggest concern is finding others to take over for him when he's gone.
That's special in my book.

silly rabbit said...

I have heard (yawn) so many commencement speeches over the years that fail to address anything worthwhile. This was very well thought out and well said. All of it true. This is when adult life begins and those childhood fantasies about how life gifts you are over. I wish all students entering adult life had to read and sign this one. Ha.

My other favorite graduation speech (given to students prior to walking, in private )involved the fact that this ceremony is not for the students graduating... it is for their families, who made the sacrifices required to get them to this point. And any student who decides to moon the audience,or other prank, is really mooning their parents and grandparents and proving to all in attendance that their family's sacrifices were wasted, since it is the responsibility of parents to rear students to adulthood and only a child would think more of getting a laugh than allowing their parents the moment of pride they deserve.

Buck said...

The Daily Mail in the UK picked this up, too... which is where I first heard about it. Not to take anything away from ya, Jim... the speech is just THAT good.

Michelle H. said...

Great read!

Kat said...

HAHA! It is PERFECT!!! Seriously. I think I am going to send that to every graduate I know. So awesome.
Thank you for directing me to it!

The Broad said...

Breathtaking, Jim. And timeless, too...

lime said...

that is quite excellent and i am so glad you shared it.

Karen said...

I can't get it to load... will keep trying.

Matt Conlon said...

Gah! Bandwidth exceeded! Hogwash! ...it's gotta be available somewhere else... hang on a sec. Yeah, here we go.

Matt Conlon said...

Yeah, that was extraordinary.

That's the kind of speech I would want to give.

Ruby said...

Great speech.

Rebecca said...

I thought it was an amazing speech - and so very true.

It's exactly the context in which it should've been said and makes sense - not in the negative and snide manner in which the media tried to paint.

It really was extraordinary, as I hope the children who are our future -- attempt to be.

Todd said...

This reminds me a lot of a TEDx talk from last year entitled, “You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Speech.” After years of being kid-gloved people really seem hungry for this kind of message.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXUh3wNnFrw

Anonymous said...

I comment each time I like a article on a site or if I
have something to valuable to contribute to the conversation.
Usually it's triggered by the passion displayed in the article I looked at. And after this article ""You Are Not Special"". I was actually excited enough to post a leave a responsea response ;-) I do have 2 questions for you if it's allright.
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like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?
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