During graduation season, aside from walking across the stage yourself or seeing a loved one walk across the stage, the next best thing is listening to the commencement speech. Many graduation speeches deal with congratulating the graduates on their achievement, presenting them with a challenge and advice on how to handle the real world.
This year, my mom graduated from my Alma Malta Claflin University, with a Masters in Business Administration. The commencement speaker was Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. The focus of the speak was the issue of #BlackLivesMatter #YourLifeMatters #AllLifeMatters. Morial then challenged the graduates to do something with their degrees that will make the world a better place.
Chimamade Ngozi Adichie delivered the commencement speech at Wellesley College. In the speech she mentions several anecdotes and feminist ideals. She advises the graduating class to try to make the world a better place but mentions that “we cannot always bend the world to the shapes that we want but we can try”. We can continue to attempt to make the world better by trying to “create the world you want to live in”. She advises that it is often expected of women to adjust themselves to conform to others, her advice here is to “not twist yourself into someone you are not to please others”. I have become very familiar with the notion of changing myself to fit those around me and that make myself unhappy and untrue to those around me. It is a far greater use of my energy to be my full self and happy at all times rather than to be the person I think others want me to be. In closing as a true feminist, Adichie advises women to “never accept “because you are a woman” for a reason for doing anything.” For too long men have tried to hold back the accomplishments of women simply because we are women. There is no reason a woman cannot achieve every goal she sets for herself.
I advise all people to respect the sanity of life and self. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and humanity to make the world we live in better. We should let nothing hold us back and no one tell us we can’t.