"Worship your intellect...you will end up feeling stupid", and other advice from David Foster Wallace's 2005 commencement speech

May 21, 2014

This month, thousands of students will take their diplomas and leave their graduation ceremonies with one question: “What’s next?”

But it’s not just graduates that are asking this question, it’s the entire American workforce. They’re spending less, they value time more, and they’re increasingly choosing to carve out career paths that align with their values, and allow them to pursue a more meaningful life.

In his 2005 commencement speech to the students of Kenyon College, David Foster Wallace reminded them why education truly matters:

“It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over...Your education really is the job of a lifetime.”

As the American workforce increasingly chooses to declare independence and focus more on themselves, their families and their communities, we thought we’d celebrate the graduates of 2014 by sharing David Foster Wallace’s inspiring commencement speech that took place 9 years ago to the day.

Do yourself a favor and watch the full video:

Photo by Steve Rhodes