Create a Better World, Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First –
Arianna Huffington, Founder, huffingtonpost.com to the graduating class at Hunter College, New York in the Commencement Address
By Karah Preiss for huffpost.com
I’m proud to be at a place where nearly a third of undergraduates were born overseas, where nearly 40 percent speak a native language other than English, where about a third are the first in their families to go to college, and where almost 20% of you are graduating with a second degree …
More well-known is that Hunter has nurtured the best and the brightest throughout our history, from Nobel Prize winners to civil rights activists, to former congresswoman Bella Abzug, who famously remarked, ‘This woman’s place is in the House — the House of Representatives.’
Hunter is a living testament to the power of diversity, tolerance, and progress. But as much as we would like to think otherwise, these values cannot be taken for granted. They have to be safeguarded, protected and defended every day. You don’t have to follow the news particularly closely to realize they’re under assault right now. We have a presidential nominee who smears Mexicans as ‘rapists,’ who wants to institute a religious test to enter a country founded on religious freedom, who wants to erect barriers and walls. But this is an institution based on breaking down barriers and walls, on proving the value of opportunity, openness and diversity. So all of you have a special role to play in upholding Hunter’s rich legacy at a time when it is threatened like never before in our lifetime.
We all have different areas in our lives where we are more insecure and anxious. You probably all know what is your biggest anxiety trigger, so you can test how sleep deprivation exacerbates it. I’ll tell you what my greatest anxiety trigger is. It has to do with my two daughters — any parents here who identify with me? If I text one of them and she doesn’t respond within five seconds I move into the most idiotic negative fantasies. A few years ago I was in Switzerland on a grueling business trip, and I woke up, still sleep deprived, to a text from my daughter Christina that she was feeling terrible and needed a doctor. I immediately tried to call her and she didn’t answer. And then of course I moved into full-scale panic, calling everyone — her friends, her friends’ parents, all our relatives, and just stopping short of calling the police and putting out an Amber alert for her. I’m sure there are people in this audience who I called! But, of course, she was fine, it was just a very bad cold and she had gone back to sleep, which is why she hadn’t responded to my texts. But my sleep deprivation had turned that into a full-blown emergency.
As you head out into your new world, you might well feel overwhelmed with far too many items on your to-do list. So here is a hack on how to trim those lists down and give your life some breathing room. You can complete a project by dropping it … That’s the way I finally checked learning to play piano, and learning German, and becoming a good skier, off of my to-do list — I ‘completed’ them by just finally getting rid of them. It’s about priorities, and realizing you’re more than your to-do lists.
I’d like to close on a note of gratitude. Not just my gratitude for having the chance to be here with you today — though there’s that — but also how important it is to build gratitude into your every day.
And there’s no time like the end of the day to reflect on what you’re grateful for … my new goal in life is not just to get stuff done, not just to be effective, but to bring joy into my life and into everything I do and touch …”
READ THE WHOLE ADDRESS
If you read through all of the above, I know you will enjoy two commencement addresses by Oprah and Arianna through the following link:
SUNDAY, JUNE 05, 2016. 9:36 a.m. [GMT]