The inspiration for it came from reading Anna Quindlen’s Commencement speech she delivered to Mount Holyoke College back in 1999.As she points out most commencement speeches suggest taking something up. Instead Quindlen suggests giving something up:
“Give up the backpack. Give up the nonsensical and punishing quest for perfection that dogs too many of us through too much of our lives. It is a quest that causes us to doubt and denigrate ourselves, our true selves, our quirks and foibles and great leaps into the unknown, and that is bad enough.But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. This is more difficult, because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Set aside what your friends expect, what your parents demand, what your acquaintances require. Set aside the messages this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain and its disapproval, about how you should behave. Imitations are redundant. Yourself is what is wanted.”
You can read the entire speech here:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
When you’re constrained to 100 words, there isn’t much that one can take away.
None of my columns are perfect, but they’re all mine.
And that’s good enough for me.