5 Lessons We Can All Learn From J.K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech
Start writing a post
Entertainment

5 Lessons We Can All Learn From J.K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech

For those who haven't seen it, it's a must watch.

6371
5 Lessons We Can All Learn From J.K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech
flickr.com

On June 5th, 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a speech to the graduating class at Harvard University. For those of you who have seen this phenomenal address, you probably already know where this article is headed. For those that haven’t, I encourage you not only to read the remainder of this article but to take 20 minutes out of your day to watch the video on YouTube (you can find the link here).

While Rowling is most notably known for her brilliant creation of the Harry Potter series, there’s a lot the world doesn’t know about her, and a plethora of great advice and wisdom she has to bestow upon the rest of the world.

Without further ado, I give you the 5 things her commencement speech teaches us:

1. Other people will try to influence you

When J.K. Rowling was studying in school, her parents didn’t want her to pursue her dream of being a writer because they worried it wouldn’t pay a mortgage. Shocking right? Maybe now, but at the time her parents had no idea that she was going to amount to the success she has. The message? Listen to your friends, family, and those who care about you, but remember it is YOUR life, and you shouldn’t be influenced. If you have a gift, talent, dream– pursue it. There’s no way anybody knows how it will turn out, but if you love it and you put all your energy into it, your chances of success are great.

2. Passing examinations does not determine your success

Ah, yes, music to the ears of all of us who are, shall we say, awful test takers. Being one of these individuals it made me overjoyed to hear one of the most talented and creative minds in this world convey this message. While Rowling admits to having a knack for taking tests and acing examinations, she illustrates that this ability does not determine anyone’s success– not even her own.

3. No one likes failure, and we all fail

Okay, sure, we have all been told this words in some manner– from our parents, coaches, teachers– but what none of them tell us is what Rowling puts so perfectly in her speech. “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously, you might as well not have lived at all– in which case, you fail by default.” Do you have goosebumps yet? I know I do. Rather than attempt to avoid failure altogether, we must be willing to accept that it is going to come and be ready to build our lives off it. As Rowling points out, to get through life without failing would not be a life worth living.

4. Imagination is crucial in life

“Imagination is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” And she does it again. I know everyone has goosebumps this time. So many times, we think that people are wired in one way or another– they are either creative or possess an extraordinary amount of intelligence. Whichever you may be, J.K. Rowling wants you to know that imagination is crucial for life. Without it, we ignore the one truly unique quality that differentiates us from all other species, effectively claiming that we are human.

5. Your friendships are important and should be valued

I’ve always been a fan of Rowling but hearing the way she talks about her friendships and the influence that they’ve had in her life just made me a bigger fan. No matter what you go through in life, whether it is labeled as success or failure, having friends by your side to support you and accompany you on your journey makes everything better. Your friends will help you to crawl out of the dark depths during the difficult times and be cheering you on and rooting for you during the best of times (even if you name them after dementors).

Well, there you have it. If I had the ability to, I would write an entire paper on all the lessons that we can learn from J.K. Rowling’s 20-minute commencement address, but out of fear that I’d lose most of you, I’ll refrain.

I hope in this short article you have been as inspired as I was by Rowling’s words, and if you haven’t yet watched this video, it’s a must-see.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

A new month means new music! Like each month, I've collected my top 10 new songs or discoveries into a playlist. This November didn't have too many new releases, however, I did find a few and a couple of new discoveries.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

7 Christmas Ideas For Couples That You Can Still Do In The Middle Of A Global Pandemic

The holidays are such a fun time to celebrate with loved ones; here are a few activities to consider being a part of during this Christmas season.

4470
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Whether it is a night in at home baking sweet Christmas themed goodies for Santa, or a night out exploring lit up neighborhoods, the holiday season should always be taken advantage of for cute activities!

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Every Track On Ariana Grande's 'Positions' Album Ranked

Ariana Grande has achieved major success with her new album and we're ranking every track.

29482

Ariana Grande surprised fans in October, tweeting that her new album was being released. What followed was yet another number one peak on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album's title track and lead single, "Positions," also hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

With "Positions," Grande took a much more light-hearted approach than the confessional nature of its predecessor, "Thank U, Next." It was a welcome and refreshing change of pace. Now that the album has been out for a solid month, it's the perfect time to see how the songs rank.

Keep Reading... Show less
FOX

In the four Christmas' that I have spent with my boyfriend, I have realized one thing: boys are hard to shop for. Each year I have to rack my brain for gift ideas because when I ask my boyfriend what he wants for Christmas, he always says something along the lines of "nothing," which as a girl is hard to fathom since I literally give him a list each year before Black Friday.

After hours each year scouring the internet for the perfect Christmas gifts to get my boyfriend, I have come up with a pretty long and inclusive list. To help those girlfriends going through the same thing, I decided to put together some of the best gifts I have come across.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

10 Ways You Can Safely Enjoy The Holidays During The Pandemic

Even with a pandemic, there are still ways to celebrate.

7523

It's almost December, which means that it's almost time for the biggest holiday season to arrive! However, it doesn't mean that COVID-19 has decided to disappear. According to the CDC, 147,840 new cases of COVID have been recorded in the last seven days.

States such as Kentucky have closed all of their restaurants, schools, and businesses until December. Some governors have started to advise caution when celebrating the holidays, too. You may be thinking, 'is there any way to really enjoy Christmas during the pandemic?' In fact, there are ways to still celebrate the holiday safely. Here are 10 ways that you can still enjoy the holiday season without canceling any of your plans.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

The 5 Things We ALL Want For Christmas In Mariah Carey's New Special

The Queen of Christmas is back and bringing festive moments to an all-new special premiering December 4!

12866

Mariah Carey is saving 2020 by bringing an all-new Christmas special to Apple TV+ starting December 4. It will feature guest stars, festive moments, and musical performances. The all-star cast includes Tiffany Haddish, Billy Eichner, and Snoop Dogg. Carey's twins will also make a special appearance.

A festive special is certainly what we all need right now. There are lots of information about the upcoming special that has many fans excited. Here are the five things from the special we're most looking forward to.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

10 Things You Need From Target If You Want To Take Your Christmas Decor Game To A Whole New Level

No one wants to talk about 2020, but these decor pieces will give everyone something worth talking about.

6577
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

It's no secret that for a majority of people, Christmas season is the happiest time of year.

There are people that put their trees up before Halloween even begins and those that calmly wait until Thanksgiving is over. No matter which group you fall in, there's a good chance that this year has been a tough one, so why not treat yourself to a few new pieces that will spark joy in your heart every single time you catch a glimpse of them.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

How The 'Friends' Theme Song Is Actually Describing 2020 — And It Couldn't BE More Accurate

This isn't our day, our week, our month, and definitely not our year...

4531
NBC

Everyone knows the iconic Friends theme song and although we may have joked in previous years how relatable it is, here's a breakdown of the lyrics and how they are so 2020, we might never be able to listen to it again after 2020.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments