Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last words of wisdom from Bates graduation

This is my final blog post about graduation speeches and words of wisdom from some incredibly inspiring individuals. The third speaker who had a big impact on many of the folks I spoke with after graduation was Elizabeth Strout. Elizabeth Strout graduated from Bates in 1977 and has written three full-length fiction books. Her most recent " Olive Kitteridge " won the 2009 Pulizer for fiction. In an article for the New York Post she wrote that as a child her mother urged her to write down what she saw. She said, at home " Writing was just in the air."
Keep in mind that success didn't come easy. She worked as a nightclub pianist, sold mattresses and waited tables in the years between graduation and publication.
She opened by telling graduates
" Chances are really, really good that you are going to be alright."
She went on to say
" Everyones identity is about to change in a major way and yes it's traumatic to graduate which is why no one remembers their graduation speaker.
Her advice ( my scribbled notes may not be a perfect translation )
Be open to your friends.
Stay close to those who make you laugh.
Consider people who make you uncomfortable, they will teach you important things.
How you live your life matters.
The best part of what waits for you is
" When we understand we are not the most important person in the world we become larger not smaller. "

1 comment:

  1. I am starting to realize that graduation speakers are for the parents.
    why did I not realize this before? We are just waiting for advice and direction as we enter the next phase of our lives.
    The kids are in the moment, sad about leaving, missing friends, anxious about the future or just hung over.
    But the parents are hanging on every word.
    Thanks for relaying the wisdom of this year's Bates graduation!
    So much wisdom just circulating around at this time of year.
    Maybe we should crash a graduation every year to get a dose of much needed advice.