The class of 2013 motto inspired me: “Life is not about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself” (George Bernard Shaw). And it’s true. You won’t become your best self by following the pack. You have seek out those things that will create the version of yourself you want to see in the mirror every morning. And honestly, that’s the scariest thing of all. But it’s also the bravest thing of all. And for that reason, I decided that I had to take the biggest risk of my life: pursue my dreams of becoming a novelist.
I’ve always been a dreamer. I never wanted to be like anyone else. Where there was a path, I took a different route. I’ve always felt that I had to follow my dreams, which got me to thinking about the difference between living and existing. What is this difference? Do we live to exist? Or exist to live? I find it to be like this: existing is going to that 9 to 5 job everyday that you don’t enjoy. It may bring in money, but it doesn’t satisfy you, it doesn’t make you want to be better, learn more, or seek out the utmost happiness. Then there is living. Living is doing what you love. Maybe this doesn’t produce much money, but at least you can say at the end of the day that you’re doing what you love, that you’re happy, that you’re following your dream. I’ve always found this to be a writer’s existence. We write because it makes us happy; that is really all we can ask for. I feel alive when I write; I can express myself in ways that I never knew were possible. This is my dream. And I will have a strong conviction to follow it. And you should, too, whatever those dreams may be.
Also, I knew I wouldn’t be happy with a 9 to 5 job staring at a computer all day long. And that doesn’t make that career undesirable, I just knew, for me personally, that it wasn’t my dream. And that’s why I chose to pursue screenwriting. And that’s probably why all of my screenwriting peers in the School of Film and Television chose the same path. We knew we had to have a taste of the thing we loved so much.
Of course, I knew I was taking a gamble with this taste of the creative, unpredictable world. I knew that we creative types don’t automatically get jobs until several or more months after graduation. Family and friends would constantly tell me, after hearing that I was pursuing something unconventional, that the path wouldn’t be easy, and that I was entering a competitive field. But isn’t every field competitive? And don’t we all, regardless of our dreams, have to work hard to pursue our dreams? Needless to say, those comments didn’t deter me from my dreams of being a writer.
But sometimes those comments would upset me. I remember one family member telling me that business or computer science or engineering were much smarter choices. And he’s probably right. But that doesn’t mean those majors were the right choices for me. I would’ve felt incompetent in any major outside of screenwriting. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life, it’s that we have to do what makes us happy.
As the end of college looms above our heads, I ask you all to do one thing. Figure out what makes you happy. Some of you have, I’m sure. And I’ll be honest: knowing is just as scary as not knowing. So what makes you happy? Is it the outdoors? Is it the cool job somewhere far away from home? Is it following someone you love to another city? It could be anything. But you must understand that these choices force you to adjust. You can choose whatever life you want. Your opportunities are endless. And that’s pretty spectacular. But at the end of the day, you must ask yourself if that’s all worth it. If it isn’t, then you’ll never adjust. And that doesn’t make you weak. But it does show that your happiness lies elsewhere, maybe in a different field. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you dislike something so much, and you’ve kept an open mind for the most part, then your answer is further away than you would’ve expected. We’ve all searched for something more, and then quickly realized that our passions are where our hearts are. And that’s okay: it makes us human. And we humans must be inspired to thrive.
So do what inspires you! Do what you’re passionate about. Don’t ever think that you can’t do something. You can always achieve your dreams; you just have to have three things: faith, utter passion, and undying drive. With faith, you will understand that trials and tribulations will emerge, and you will still believe in yourself through these obstacles. With utter passion, you won’t give up for the easy route; you will always take the harder, more rewarding route. And with undying drive, you will convince those around you that you’re determined to follow through, no matter the stakes. And sometimes this difficult path will make you unhappy or you’ll lose your confidence. That’s normal. But it’s how you overcome this fear of succeeding that matters. You can’t expect to be happy every day. But if you’re happy most of the time, then you’re in the right place. That’s all that matters.
And if you’re like me, and you don’t have a clear path yet, that’s okay. We don’t have all the answers at twenty-two. If we did, we’d all be millionaires by now! So promise me that you’ll do this: Focus on today. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Don’t worry about what you have to do. That doesn’t make life easier. Life will work itself out if you put in the effort. You can do anything you set your mind to. So always believe in yourself. I believe in you.
So be brave, follow your dream. You won’t regret living.
And congratulations, class of 2013!