You’re Not Special – Everyone Is!

Yesterday my MSN home page headline heralded a Wellesley, Massachusetts English teacher speaking at a commencement ceremony and telling the graduating seniors,  “You’re not special.”  For shame, for shame, you say!  We must admit that teachers do make for sensational headlines though, along with Catholic priests, politicians, and really, all public servants.   Even if we do play second fiddle to the Hollywood elite, the aforementioned teacher video went viral in an Internet minute.  I’ll set my hobnobbing with the “who’s who” group aside and let you know there’s also a poll that you can voice your opinion on as well.  The MSN folks ask:

Do you think his speech was appropriate?  You may vote:

                  Yes.  Kids today are coddled and need a dose of reality.

No. Commencement is a time for optimism.

Maybe he’s right, but it’s still mean-spirited.


I took the time to listen to the entire recorded speech.  Hopefully, everyone did and became informed before they voted and either applauded or bad mouthed David McCullough Jr.

He made references to a “what do I get for it?”  generation, as well as the common American late 20th and 21st century practice of  everyone getting a trophy just for showing up.  He quoted statistics on how many of “them” were sitting in chairs like theirs around the world, as valedictorian, class presidents, and swaggering jocks.  He also encouraged them to get up, get out, and follow their dreams, to not wait to find out what they are passionate about, but to seek it out.  He advised that they not waste time on anything that was just “good enough” for them, something they didn’t absolutely love.

And yes, he did say, “You’re not special.”  But he added , “Everyone is! ”  In the purest linguistic interpretation, the intimation is that if everyone is special, then no one is, but I really don’t think that’s the already judged mean-spirited message he intended.  I believe he was encouraging the graduates to go forth with humility and respect, acknowledging that every single one of us on this planet may have spent the first 18 years of our lives being the center of a small personal universe,  but as we reach adulthood and venture out of that realm of safety and security and into the great big worlds of others, we must acknowledge that there are billions of individuals out there, just like us, each special in their own way, each with gifts and talents to be discovered and appreciated.  So yes, he was advising the students to    “get over themselves”  but Mr. McCullough’s words were a wise reminder for all of us, that we belong to a set of very special individuals, each of whom is special in our own distinctive ways.

So, even for us older folks, who are sometimes made blatantly and painfully aware that the world doesn’t revolve around us, Mr. McCullough’s words are like gems to be treasured, but not burrowed away.  We should polish them each day and go forth to do the work we’re passionate about.  

Ww should work hard, be nice, and remember that every single one of us is special!

Peace and Love

This entry was posted in education, humility, inspiration, knowledge, life, life, rewards, spirituality, teaching, wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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