Which—let’s face it—we all could probably use.
So today, we rounded up 35 of the best graduation quotes of all time. Sure, they’re great tips for the new grads out there, but they’re bound to offer the rest of us some big-time inspiration, too.
Do all the other things, the ambitious things—travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes...but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.
Sometimes you find out what you are supposed to be doing by doing the things you are not supposed to do.
Don’t buy society’s definition of success. Because it’s not working for anyone. It’s not working for women, it’s not working for men, it’s not working for polar bears, it’s not working for the cicadas that are apparently about to emerge and swarm us. It’s only truly working for those who make pharmaceuticals for stress, diabetes, heart disease, sleeplessness, and high blood pressure.
Do not worry too much about your lawn. You will soon find if you haven’t already that almost every adult American devotes tremendous time and money to the maintenance of an invasive plant species called turf grass that we can’t eat. I encourage you to choose better obsessions.
And how do you know when you’re doing something right? How do you know that? It feels so. What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.
Be bold, be courageous, be your best.
Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.
Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.
You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.
A world where men ran half our homes and women ran half our institutions would be just a much better world.
From my point of view, which is that of a storyteller, I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.
There is nothing more beautiful than finding your course as you believe you bob aimlessly in the current. Wouldn’t you know that your path was there all along, waiting for you to knock, waiting for you to become. This path does not belong to your parents, your teachers, your leaders, or your lovers. Your path is your character defining itself more and more everyday like a photograph coming into focus.
Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.
There is no script. Live your life. Soak it all in.
But real leadership comes from the quiet nudging of an inner voice. It comes from realizing that the time has come to move beyond waiting to doing.
I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.
Thankfully dreams can change. If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed, and you’re not some loser. But just as importantly—and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to—if you do get your dream, you are not a winner.
The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.
The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules.
And when your journey seems too hard, and when you run into a chorus of cynics who tell you that you’re being foolish to keep believing or that you can’t do something, or that you should just give up, or you should just settle—you might say to yourself a little phrase that I’ve found handy these last eight years: Yes, we can.
Now the first suggestion is to aim high, but be aware that even before you have reached your ultimate professional destination, if you always strive for excellence, you can and should have a substantial impact on the world in which you live.
Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.
Be compassionate to everyone. Don’t just search for whatever it is that annoys and frightens you, see beyond those things to the basic human being. Especially see the child in the man or woman. Even if they are destroying you, allow a moment to see how lost in their own delusion and suffering they are.
Not only can you not plan the impact you’re going to have, you often won’t recognize it when you’re having it.
Real courage is holding on to a still voice in your head that says, ‘I must keep going.’ It’s that voice that says nothing is a failure if it is not final. That voice that says to you, ‘Get out of bed. Keep going. I will not quit.’
There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.
Photos courtesy of Pablo.