Step into my e-time machine and travel back to your last graduation…
Where were you?
Who were you with?
How did you feel?
What was next for you?
Over the past month and weeks to come, students from around the world have been participating in commencement from high schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. While we typically think of graduations as the end or conclusion of something significant (and it is), to “commence” actually means to begin or start.
Commencement symbolizes turning a new page to write your next chapter. It’s not just an end; it’s a new beginning! Tweet This!
When I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Communication Studies from UCLA, I was honored to be one of the featured speakers at our commencement ceremony. I recently re-read my speech and wanted to share some of the highlights with you as you consider what your next chapter holds. Enjoy!
We live in a society that is obsessed with creation. Yet with the power of creation comes the burden of responsibility to always be self-aware and reflective in order to make sure we are contributing positively to the future of our society.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke at a commencement ceremony to Yale undergraduates, saying:
“As every past generation has had to disenthrall itself from an inheritance of truisms and stereotypes, so in our own time we must move on from the reassuring repetition of stale phrases to a new, difficult, but essential confrontation with reality.
For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic…mythology distracts us everywhere.
The myth is indeed more dangerous than the lie.
And the myths we create about ourselves can be the most dangerous.
The lies we can identify; we know they are there. They are deliberate. But the myths are persistent, reassuring, and created unwittingly so that we deceive ourselves.”
During our time at UCLA, we have invested countless hours in our education – studying everything from marketing strategies to legal and political discourse – all in search of knowledge and truth. During our educational journey, we have undoubtedly encountered information that has challenged our versions of reality, causing us to rethink our perspectives and grow beyond what we formerly knew and understood.
And in this growth process, we also encountered false ideas and misguided propositions that clouded these truths – these are the myths Kennedy warns about that challenge our creativity and test the strength of our knowledge structures. Yet they also distract us from growth, from moving forward, from learning and contributing to society in positive ways.
Kennedy shared that we need to rethink and to reframe in order to change the way we think. We need to always be self aware and reflective so we do not become victims to these powerful myths.
His philosophy challenges what is most safe and comfortable in our lives. His message should be taken seriously by each and every one of us in order to understand and deconstruct our society that is so hung up on fabricating truth and creating alternate conceptions of reality.
As educated and talented individuals, we must:
- Ask questions in order to rethink our assumptions
- Confront conformity and prejudice with confidence
- Challenge ourselves to grow beyond our present capabilities
- Push our limits in order to embrace our full potential
(Can you tell I was already on my way to becoming a Coach?!)
We don’t just go to college to earn a degree. We go to build a life. A life that is filled with diverse and impacting experiences that have helped shape us into who we are today and who we are still to become. The many eager faces in this room reflect a myriad of experiences and involvements that symbolize the rich diversity of our campus community. They symbolize positive change and a hope for the future of our society.
Graduation from UCLA is not the end to our journey, but rather the start to a new chapter in our life’s story. Whether you become a CEO of a multi-million dollar television network faced with ethical business decisions, an influential educator who must challenge the stereotypes perpetuated by the media, or a noteworthy politician who has the power to create public policy that impacts our nation, PLEASE REMEMBER to make it your individual responsibility to challenge the myths that enter your personal and professional lives. Congratulations!
Now Consider This:
- What myths have you accepted in your life?
- How will you deconstruct these myths and embrace truth instead?
- What does this next chapter of life hold for you?
- What excites you the most?
Go live it!
It’s time to commence and begin the next chapter!
Create a great day,