Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

Being Perfect vs. Being True to Yourself

Author and journalist Anna Quindlen was on the Today Show this morning. Apparently, some years ago she gave a commencement speech at a college graduation ceremony that caused such a buzz, Random House just put it out as a short book called Being Perfect.

Her original speech is available online here, among other sites. For a taste of what Quindlen said, here are some excerpts:

" ... nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

"This is more difficult, because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Set aside what your friends expect, what your parents demand, what your acquaintances require. Set aside the messages this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain and its disapproval, about how you should behave ...

"This is the hard work of your life in the world, to make it all up as you go along, to acknowledge the introvert, the clown, the artist, the reserved, the distraught, the goofball, the thinker. You will have to bend all your will not to march to the music that all of those great 'theys' out there pipe on their flutes.

"They want you to go to professional school, to wear khakis, to pierce your navel, to bare your soul. These are the fashionable ways. The music is tinny, if you listen close enough. Look inside. That way lies dancing to the melodies spun out by your own heart. This is a symphony. All the rest are jingles."

It's pretty profound stuff. Read the entire speech and apply her wisdom to your own life and creative career.


  • Thanks for this post, Bob. It really helped me.

    I just discovered this blog and I hope you keep it going.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11:20 PM  

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