Graduation season is here, which means many people are going to be subjected to the stress, joy and tedium such milestones bring.
When I am given the chance to speak to young people, here is what I say:
No Matter What You Are Told, You Are Unique
Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you say, or do or try, it has all been done before? After all, there have been billions of people who have lived on this earth before you came along and lots of them were smarter than you, right? The likelihood that you are the first person to have had a particular thought about one thing or another is minute.
Some people get downright dark about it. They will say you are just another rat in the same race that has been running for eons. You live, you procreate, you die. There's nothing special about you. No reason for your existence. This is all an accident, after all.
I really hate that way of thinking. It leaves no room for the reality of the miracle of creation. And creativity.
I am not headed toward a Graduation Day argument between creation and evolution. I am talking about this: It is estimated that more than 100 billion people have lived on earth. They all have had unique DNA. Genetically speaking, there has never been another person who ever lived who has been your exact match.
Additionally, no one has ever had the same combination of experiences you have had. When and where you were born, who raised you, where you have lived, the schooling you have had and a thousand other variables combine to make you completely different from anyone who is alive now - and all of the people who have ever lived.
We haven't even mentioned technology. Obviously, those who have come before us were not exposed to the advancements we take for granted in our daily lives.
Hopefully by now you realize what I am saying.
Despite all the people who have lived in history, despite the brilliant people who are out there now, despite the competition you are facing in the current crop of graduates who are sitting in ceremonies like this one around the country...you are unique.
Your thoughts and your philosophies and the way you learn and the way you analyze and the way you create is unique. No one has done things the exact same way you do them because there has never been anyone exactly like you. Ever.
It is important that you still make the effort to find mentors in your field, learn from the people who have succeeded before you and know the history of what you hope to achieve.
Once you understand those things, go forward and do what you do your way. By being yourself, you are actually doing it unlike anyone has ever done it before.