Bill Watterson is the guy who did those Calvin and Hobbes comics. He gave a commencement speech to Kenyon College in 1990. From it is an excerpt that made it onto some webpage that then landed in my Facebook feed. I can’t find that page, but I think I found the excerpt:
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
I especially like that last bit – establishing your own life’s path starts with giving yourself permission, sometimes permission to not climb the success ladder that’s such a sacred structure of our environment.
That awesome life you want starts with realizing… you’re allowed to live it.