Lately, I’ve had this thought, a thought about people and accomplishments and success and leadership and what does it all even mean. What does it mean to be successful?
Graduating college has been, for lack of a better word, traumatic so far. Traumatic, in the sense that, I have no idea what to do yet. It’s not that I don’t have options or opportunities. I’m turning down job after job , simply because they’ve thus far all lacked significant meaning to me. School is enticing, because it’s safe, but safety is hardly ever the answer.
In college, I was involved. In high school, I was involved. I always earned top grades, studied hard, worked. More so, I was surrounded by like minded-people, or so I thought. Which brings me to my main point, my thought.
It’s incredible how mediocre people will be when not presented with any reason to be otherwise.
I have friends who were always involved. Who were supposedly active and passionate about a cause just last year. But now, they’re on their way to law school or some job at a bank. They have the acceptance letter; there’s not need to contribute anymore. They’ll get a fancy, important sounding job and feel important. Good for them. So is that it?
I suppose I could make it easy. I could just go back to some fancy program. Get a basic job. Make some money and work my way up. But I thought this was about something more- isn’t that what we all thought? Well, apparently not. Now, apparently, I’m the crazy one.
“And we choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”- JFK
But it’s o.k., because I’m o.k. with being crazy. Crazy people think, and they feel.
Today, I found this speech by Willian Deresiewicz, delivered in 2009 at West Point. It’s all about solitude and leadership and making a real difference in the world. About not being afraid to trust yourself. It’s a beautiful speech, albeit long, but absolutely worth the read. I personally could not have discovered it at a more perfect time.
I’m posting it here, because I think that everyone should read it, and think about it. Contemplate it.
Really, anyone can follow rules. Anyone can pass a test. Seriously, anyone. Over and over again growing up, I was told “you can do anything that you set your mind to,” and I wholeheartedly believe it. But what exactly are we setting our minds to? Exactly.
Can you set your mind to do something meaningful? Something incredible? Something beyond mere absorption and spitting out of information? Beyond meeting deadlines and not questioning your superiors? Beyond making it to this magical “top?”
The question is no longer, can we do it or how will we do it, but what will we do and why?
I haven’t answered that question yet. But I do know, at least, that I will not settle for something meaningless. My mind is set.
Doing what you care about is terrifying. Thinking, feeling passion is terrifying. Solitude is terrifying.
But at the end of the day, all of these actions, these behaviors are far, far less terrifying than at least one thing. The alternative.