I heard Savanah Gutherie’s commencement speech this morning as replayed on the Today show, and it was excellent. Her words not only apply to the 2019 grads she was addressing, but they resonate with all of us. I especially feel her words in my own zig-zagged path to being a writer and getting published.
The goals are never-ending for me. I reach one, pause to celebrate for a minute, then push forward to the next. But in doing this, I often forget that, as Savanaha basically says, the journey is the destination.
As a writer, I speak to fellow writers who struggle with their path for various reasons that often change day to day. This speech will inspire you to keep going. But I also share this as a person living this thing called life. We can all use these inspiring words to keep us going.
Here are some highlights to note from Savanah’s speech:
My path is not how anyone would tell anybody to get anywhere. It’s like someone giving you directions from right here to New York City by telling you to start heading toward Miami. But what I’ve realized is – no matter how many detours you take, you’re going to get where you are meant to go.
Every person sitting here has some kind of dream – an idea of what their lives might look like. It could be a career goal, it could be an athletic achievement, it could be the place you want to live or the family that you hope to create. Here’s the thing: Whisper it to yourself if you must, but say it out loud, put it out there - don’t curb your ambitions, don’t tell yourself, ‘I could never do that. I’m not good enough. It’s too much.’
This is a particularly inspiring portion of the message:
Every person sitting here has some kind of dream – an idea of what their lives might look like. It could be a career goal, it could be an athletic achievement, it could be the place you want to live or the family that you hope to create. Here’s the thing: Whisper it to yourself if you must, but say it out loud, put it out there – don’t curb your ambitions, don’t tell yourself, ‘I could never do that. I’m not good enough. It’s too much.’
My advice is really simple: Think big for yourself and then, just head in that general direction. Whether you arrive at the ideal destination is not even the point. The point is to be ambitious for your life… and then just, try.
Now: of course, I can’t know where your fulfillment and happiness will be found. I can’t tell you where your dream is. Only you know that.
But I can tell you where it isn’t. It isn’t in your comfort zone. It isn’t in your wheelhouse. It’s not where you feel safe. It’s not where conditions are perfect. It is not where you are usually right and rarely challenged.
Your blossoming and your growth – which is to say, your success – is always, always, inevitably, on the other side of a risk. It’s on the other side of a bold choice. It’s on the edge, waiting for you, on the other side of your fear.
This is true whether it’s career, or faith, a relationship, or love – when you find it, it will only be after you’ve taken that big, giant, daring leap. It will be you, standing at the tip of a ravine, or maybe it’s a tall cliff rising over a deep canyon… you’re looking down and looking across, your heartbeat is rising, your sweat glands are pulsing. You will be here many times. You will be called to do this again and again and again.
And what you will find is – your obstacles, your broken places, the spots where you’ve healed, the things you’ve overcome – this is the source of your strength, and it also is the source of your beauty.
If you’d like to see a video of her full speech or simply read the full thing, go to the Today Show page. It’s worth the read.
Mostly, I hope you walk away from this post with a bounce in your step and head out there with your purpose renewed.