Here’s A Message EVERY Child [& Many Adults] NEED To Hear: “You Are NOT Special”

Last week, an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts named David McCullough, delivered a commencement speech that caught a lot of peoples attention – mostly by enraging them. As he stood in front of their class of 2012, he decided AGAINST delivering a traditional, happy-go-luck, ‘go-get-em-tiger’ type speech and decided to be honest. Brutally honest. And he began this epic speech by driving home a message that ALL children [as well as many adults] desperately NEED to hear: “You are NOT special.”

Here is the speech in it’s entirety:

From what I’ve observed, the main criticism of his speech is that it offers for uplifting, redemptive qualities. People hate it because he is doing the opposite of coddling the young minds of these children, which in their world, means that he is emotionally terrorizing them. Basically, he’s being accused of being a DOUCHE – who could have relayed a message of hope and perseverance but instead, chose to inundate their young hearts with brash pessimism that would have taken Christopher Hitchens aback.

But it doesn’t matter what those people think – because their brand of anti-intellectualism is EXACTLY why this speech needed to be said NOW.

Because we live in an age of lazy, apathetic idiots, many of the people who disagree with Mr. McCullough DIDN’T take the effort to watch the entire clip and clicked STOP after he stated the students are not special, but in doing so they missed the ENTIRE point. Although we need to be mindful of our children’s mental and emotional states, we have gone TOO DAMN FAR with pampering them. We have now become a society of p*ssy parents and leaders who would rather overwhelm our children with ideologies about their unearned significance and perceived infallibility, than raise them to be strong-minded, strong-willed young adults. We teach them that they are snow flakes who are all entitled to happy lives and sunny days and flying unicorns – but we fail to prepare them for how difficult the road is to those things.

And the scary part is, these young adults are facing RIDICULOUS challenges that many of the generations before them were LUCKY to not have to go through. Don’t believe me? Watch this:

See, here’s the thing: Every single kid sitting at that commencement listening to Mr. McCullough, as well as every other young adult graduating from high schools all over the world, are entering into a world that will NOT baby them. They are entering into a broken post-secondary school system that will leave them prepared ONLY to walk into a terrible economy where a masters degree could have you adding lettuce to the Big Mac right beside a high school drop out. YES, it’s THAT bad.

And the reality that this brilliant teacher recognized, is that the only true measure of a man or a woman is what he or she ACHIEVES through BUSTING THEIR ASS. None of us are intrinsically special and we need to communicate that to EVERY child, young adult and befuddled “grown-up” who have all found a way to turn that sentiment into a false sense of entitlement. You don’t deserve a DAMN THING because of what you THINK you are, or what people TELL you you’re worth – you deserve what the hell you WORK for.

If there were MORE great men and women keeping it THIS real with our students, we would have a LOT more honest, real and hard workers, and a lot less people sitting around dazed and confused that everything they simply EXPECTED was NOT handed to them on a silver platter.

This Is Your Conscience

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.


  1. lincolnanthonyblades

    06/13/2012 at 4:02 AM

    Ladies & Gentlemen, What Do You Think About His Speech? Was He Right On The Money Or Do You Disagree With It?

  2. Roxx

    06/13/2012 at 4:33 AM

    I thought that graduation speech was really good ! Didn’t see a problem with telling them they weren’t special… He was trying to make a point and tell the kids to go out there and do something worthy with their lives !

    And Suze is the man ! She’s just tellin em like it is. I know her show is for US residence but just FYI for Canadians, OSAP loans work the same way as American student loans from the bank, they don’t disappear if u declare bankruptcy. Thats one debt that u can’t squeeze out of. A pricey prestigious degree isn’t what it used to be. Get the level of education u can AFFORD and Go out there and WoRk for those good jobs ! Get that experience ! Doesn’t matter what credentials you have if u are strong and what it is u want to do!

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      06/13/2012 at 5:20 AM

      I Loved The Speech Too, So I'm Not Sure What Everyones Problem Is.

      Good Advice About Education Too – More People Need To Understand That.

  3. Smilez_920

    06/13/2012 at 8:59 AM

    We coddle our kids from levels k-12 and then wonder why they come out with this sense of entitlement. Just being present doesn’t make you special. Kids feel that they should just be able to do the bare minimum but receive the above and beyond reward and that’s not how life works.

    • The_Mad_HATER

      06/13/2012 at 12:35 PM

      and then they get old and look back on their life and blame their parents for not being tougher!!

  4. NurseJilly

    06/13/2012 at 10:13 AM

    Couldn't agree more!! I can't stand the entitled attitude so many people have these days. I had a student training with me for her required clinical for her nursing degree. This girl came into the hospital and couldn't believe she had to actually do some "physical work"…Her response was "I plan to be in management or to teach when I graduate" LMAO @ the pure ignorance of this girl. She had no idea that she would have to pay her dues before she would ever get the opportunity to be in a management or teaching position. I had to give her the "you aren't special" speech. How the hell do you expect to teach someone nursing skills when you have no hands on experience?? Granted some of the things we do as nurses are not glamorous but they have to be done so suck it up, double glove and get to work… lol

    • Smilez_920

      06/13/2012 at 10:18 AM

      That’s one thing they forgot to teach us in school. Paying dues. Lol the fact that she though said it out her mouth with so much confidence is what’s funny. You can’t teach if you've never been taught.

    • The_Mad_HATER

      06/13/2012 at 12:37 PM

      its because no one took the time to tell her ass that competition is serious out here!!! all the bs she is not willing to do there is someone who wants what she wants way worst and will kill themselves to do all everything she won't to beat her out!!

  5. Concrete_Rose

    06/13/2012 at 11:02 AM

    I won't lie. When I read the title of this first thing out of my mouth was the helll I am lol. But on a serious note. I really did like his speech. And the ppl who didn't get the message behind it are the ones that are constantly sugar coating things for these kids thinking thy are protecting them from god knows what. I don't get the message when ppl cheer these kids on for getting into the real world and starting new phases of life while still shielding them and not allowing them to have any increased responsibilities! And then ppl wonder why have people become so lazy, why do these kids expect things to be given to them.

    And the last woman shared some REAL TRUTH that I'm going to have to share.

    • The_Mad_HATER

      06/13/2012 at 12:38 PM

      suze orman is a bawse!! every kid graduating high school should have to watch that video with his or her parents!!

  6. krystllyght

    06/13/2012 at 11:47 AM

    This is a great post. I wish somebody would've shared both of these things when I graduated from high school. I would've just joined the military or something.

    • The_Mad_HATER

      06/13/2012 at 12:39 PM

      you know your ass wouldn't want any part of that freaky ass military life!!

      • krystllyght

        06/13/2012 at 1:23 PM

        LMAO! What's actually funny is all of the career aptitude tests I take say I would've done well in the military. Idk I did well on drill team.

        • The_Mad_HATER

          06/13/2012 at 1:31 PM

          so why didnt your ass do it then???

          • krystllyght

            06/13/2012 at 2:15 PM

            I was scared to be sent to war plus I thought it would separate my hubs and me.

        • iluvwhoiluv

          06/13/2012 at 2:22 PM

          Yeah, mine's too. But in the end, I decided not to go.

    • A Grown Ass Man

      06/13/2012 at 2:21 PM

      I feel you on this, plus I always thought the military was the best option for people without options

      Years later, I really wish I did join

  7. The_Mad_HATER

    06/13/2012 at 12:39 PM

    i love how posts like this get under 10 comments but posts on gold diggers get over 100!! smh

    • NurseJilly

      06/13/2012 at 12:59 PM

      LMAO I was just thinking the same thing

      • The_Mad_HATER

        06/13/2012 at 1:32 PM

        smh!! and then people complain when most of the topics end up being about ratchetness!!!

    • A Grown Ass Man

      06/13/2012 at 2:20 PM

      Good point my friend

  8. Jones & Co.

    06/13/2012 at 2:19 PM


    I graduated undergrad 2008 and then a post-grad in 2011 – probably two of the worst times to graduate. I agree with this tough love deal but I think our parents just don't know WHAT to say. This is one of the worst times to be starting your life out and like you said RIDICULOUS challenges that other generations didn't necessarily have to deal with. The old "American" dream may be gone, even if you DO work your ass off. (Ps. I'm Canadian but really….our economies are so tied to one another our situation is similar) What do you say to your child that worked HARD all through high school, university AND post-grad and still may not make it? It's harsh I know, You don't want to coddle your kids but what do you say to prepare them for such drastic changes especially when you raised them on the work hard and get rewarded system? (which isn't really true anymore)

    • A Grown Ass Man

      06/13/2012 at 2:23 PM

      I think the only thing you can do is tell them to find a goal and work hard towards that goal no matter what

  9. iluvwhoiluv

    06/13/2012 at 2:22 PM

    I feel like more speeches talking about the reality of the world out there should be spoken. It better prepares graduates on what they face. Some people graduate from high school, bright eyed and bushy tailed about the future…then when reality strikes, they are wondering what went wrong. Especially with the economy as tough as it is, now is not the time to do any babying–it's time to be tough and tell the truth, so they can act accordingly.

    • HerCommonSense

      06/13/2012 at 3:16 PM

      My only concern is how that message could shock a childs system after being coddled for so long. That's the only problem with his speech.

      • NurseJilly

        06/13/2012 at 3:29 PM

        I hear that. There has to be a mixture of motivation and reality if you really want to empower young people.

  10. Jones & Co.

    06/13/2012 at 2:47 PM

    I think we need to make it clear how luck and chance contribute to success as well as serious HARD WORK. over a long period of time. Life may not be easy but you have to be thankful everyday for what you have whether you are successful or still trying.

    Our culture of BUY BUY BUY doesn't help either. We need to shift our self-worth to how we treat one another and what we are giving back to society and the people around us to what matters. Not just your bank account.

    • HerCommonSense

      06/13/2012 at 3:15 PM

      Opportunity is when luck meets preparation.

    • NurseJilly

      06/13/2012 at 3:27 PM

      Co-sign 100%

  11. mena

    06/13/2012 at 4:05 PM

    "None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence. Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things." Truth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *