Inspiration Station, in case you needed a wee reminder.

“You Are Wrong”: Dr. Quick’s Address to the USC Class of 2008

This is taken from Dr. Michael Quick’s address to graduates from the Class of 2008 at one of the satellite ceremonies for the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. It was easily the most inspiring speech I heard all day.

What many of you think you know, you don’t. And what many of you believe, you are wrong. So allow me to clear up a few things. Because I don’t want you to think that your life is all messed up when the reality of your life does not match.

You are wrong about so many things, but I only have time to speak about five of them today.

1. The belief of early commitment.

Do not think less of yourself because you are supposed to have figured out what you want to do with your life. That is wrong. (Parents, cover your ears.) I actually hope you graduates don’t know what you want to do with your life.

If you have figured it out, fine, that is great—just don’t be so damn smug about it. But remember that you don’t get to a special place in heaven for figuring out first what you want to do with your life. Take your entire life to figure out what you want to do with it.

2. The belief of an objective point of view.

Do not think less of yourself because you are a quivering mass of indecision and stress. I know you look at the people around you and think “Wow—they really have their act together…I wish that was me…but instead I am this quivering mass of indecision and stress.” Realize that they are looking back at you seeing someone with their act together. We are all quivering masses of indecision and stress.

3. The belief of mistakes, learning from.

Do not think less of yourself if you find that you do not learn from your mistakes. You will not learn from your mistakes.

All the mistakes you make today you will continue to make again and again and again, for the rest of your life. The best you can hope for is that you will be able to see ahead of time the mistake you are about to make—and then you can say: “Yep, here I go again.” Take comfort in that knowledge.

4. The belief of happiness, pursuit of.

Do not think less of yourself if you find that you are not happy all the time. Madison Avenue ad agencies have brainwashed you into thinking that there is something wrong with you because you are not deliriously happy happy happy all the time. It is how they sell you BMWs and teeth whiteners and antidepressants. You will not be happy all the time. At best, you will have a few little crumbs of happiness in an otherwise stressful and anxious life. But that is okay. You are a mammal and your brain has evolved not for happiness but for anxiety and struggle. Get some crumbs of happiness by knowing that.

5. The belief of “the somebody else’s.”

Do not look around thinking that “the somebody else’s” out there are going to be the ones making a difference while you sit around figuring out what you want to do with your life, a quivering mass of indecision, anxiety, and stress, struggling every day for a few meager crumbs of happiness.

USC College Class of 2008, you are the somebody else’syou are the leaders, you are the world changers, you are the people who will make a difference. The deans, the faculty, and the staff of USC College are proud to have been a part of your life and we hope we have played a small part in the future that awaits you.

So go do great things.

By the way, I have been asked by the administration that when you do become rich, don’t forget your alma mater.

Dr. Michael Quick
Executive Vice Dean of Academic Affairs
USC College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences
USC Commencement 2008

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~ by Kirsten Samantha Rønholt on 30/09/2014.

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