Landing Page

J. K. Rowling’s Life Advice Will Change Your Future | One of the Greatest Speeches Ever

poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized only by fools what i feared most for myself at your age was not poverty but failure at your age in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university where i had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories and far too little time at lectures i had a knack for passing examinations and that for years had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the fates however you might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success ultimately we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it so i think it's fair to say that by any conventional measure a mere seven years after my graduation day i had failed on an epic scale an exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded and i was jobless a lone parent and as poor as it is possible to be in modern britain without being homeless the fears that my parents had had for me and that i had had for myself had both come to pass and by every usual standard i was the biggest failure i knew now i'm not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun that period of my life was a dark one and i had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution i had no idea then how far the tunnel extended and for a long time any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality so why do i talk about the benefits of failure [Applause] simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential i stopped pretending to myself that i was anything other than what i was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me had i really succeeded at anything else i might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where i believed i truly belonged i was set free because my greatest fear had been realized and i was still alive and i still had a daughter whom i adored and i had an old typewriter and a big idea and so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which i rebuilt my life you might never fail on the scale i did but some failure in life is inevitable it is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all in which case you fail by default failure gave me an inner security that i had never attained by passing examinations failure taught me things about myself that i could have learned no other way i discovered that i had a strong will and more discipline than i had suspected i also found out that i had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubis the knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are ever after secure in your ability to survive you will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity such knowledge is a true gift for all that it is painfully won and it has been worth more than any qualification i ever earned so given a time turner i would tell my 21 year old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement your qualifications your cv are not your life though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two life is difficult and complicated and beyond anyone's total control and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes now you might think that i chose my second theme the importance of imagination because of the part it played in rebuilding my life but that is not wholly so though i personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp i have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation in its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared one of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded harry potter though it informed much of what i subsequently wrote in those books this revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs though i was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours i paid the rent in my early twenties by working at the african research department of amnesty international's headquarters in london there in my little office i read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them i saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace sent to amnesty by their desperate families and friends i read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries i opened hand-written eyewitness accounts of summary trials and executions of kidnappings and rapes many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners people who had been displaced from their homes or fled into exile because they had the temerity to speak against their governments visitors to our offices included those who had come to give information or to try and find out what had happened to those who they had left behind i shall never forget the african torture victim a young man no older than i was at the time who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland he trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him he was a foot taller than i was and seemed as fragile as a child i was given the job of escorting him back to the underground station afterwards and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy and wished me future happiness and as long as i live i shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing from behind a closed door a scream of pain and horror such as i have never heard since the door opened and the researcher poked out her out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her she had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his outspokenness against his country's regime his mother had been seized and executed [Music] every day of my working week in my early 20s i was reminded how incredibly fortunate i was to live in a country with a democratically elected government where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone every day i saw more evidence about the evils humankind would inflict on their fellow humans to gain or maintain power i began to have nightmares literal nightmares about some of the things i saw heard and read and yet i al

Related Articles

Back to top button