Hi 94 / Lo 76
|Volume 68, Issue 144,
Monday, June 2, 2003
Even though the solstice is weeks away, it is summer in Houston. Kids everywhere have graduated from high school and college, and even those that have not yet walked across the stage face a time of reflection and change.
Iive heard several speeches given by graduates, and they are imbued with hope and optimism. Words like "victory," "success" and "leadership" are shamelessly used to invoke brighter dreams and occasional goosebumps. Most of those who listen to these speeches leave with an air of confidence they didnit own before. It has become a custom to send off children, family and friends after giving them that idealized picture of the choices ahead of them.
But the facts are most of us will never become the successful people we are taught we can become. Many of us will get stuck at some juncture, and we will never become millionaire businessmen or platinum-selling musicians.
The vast majority of us will end up nameless parts of the machine that is society. Sure, every one of us born in America is legally eligible to become the president. Of course, across this country, thousands of men and women graduate with majors in law and political science. The obvious pipe dream of being president aside, how many of them will ever be recognized as leaders?
How many art majors will paint the Sistine Chapel? How many biology majors will map the human genome? How many English majors will write the great American novel? Realistically, several thousand people are reaching for the same goal. So what makes you so special?
This isnit to say that none of us will impact the world as a whole. A handful of us will do just that, but it isnit because we were fed beautiful words about spectacular futures. People are successful because, at one point or another, they were afraid.
Fear is often overlooked as a motivator, or passed up in favor of something softer on our delicate egos. Would you rather hear that you have the power to change society, or that nothing is easy, and success takes its toll on your time, energy and happiness? Both statements are true in theory, but most people would choose to be empowered by the first statement because it makes us feel important. We have power. Thatis a lot more fun than sacrifice.
We live in a world that is too politically correct to be honest, and our lack of simple truth spares our emotions at the cost of our futures. There are many strong students at this university, and there are many with "gifts" in certain areas. But this is only one university out of hundreds across this nation, and in comparison, there are only a few great things to be done in this world.
Let the fear of being forgotten push you to new heights in whatever you feel passionate about. If you want to be remembered at all by a world satisfied with 30-second news stories, youill have to do something big -- something substantial. If you are a modest dreamer and hope to work your way up to middle management by the time you turn 40, by all means live in the hollow power of graduation speeches.
But for those of you who want something more, forget words like "destiny" and "potential." In your struggle to become something worthwhile, just donit be afraid to be afraid.
Lee, a freshman English major, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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