Valerie Jarrett to Wellesley College graduates on May 31, 2013:
I guarantee that everyone here who challenges the status quo will face criticism, disappointment and setbacks. Change is hard. Very hard. You will make mistakes, you will fail, and face rejection. In fact, if you never slip and fall, you’re being too cautious. Don’t let fear debilitate you. I used to be petrified of public speaking. I avoided it at all costs until I landed a big job opportunity where one of my principal responsibilities was… public speaking. Well, fear of failure motivated me to practice over and over and over. Slowly I began to realize that just because I was nervous did not mean I had to show it. And over time, what once took courage, I now enjoy.
And you don’t have to turn every one of life’s injustices into a “thing”. No matter how hard you may try, not everyone will like you, or what you have to say, or show you the respect that you have shown to one another while here at Wellesley. I remember this every time I look at my Twitter feed.
You will inevitably encounter people both professionally, and in your personal life, who try to shine at your expense, and undermine you whenever they can. They’ll deliberately try to hold you back, and break your spirit. Be patient, keep focused on doing your very best, shrug, laugh, and bounce back. Over the long haul, you’ll earn your colleagues’ respect, your bosses will recognize your talents, and your true friends will reveal themselves, and if any of them don’t respect you after you have given it a fair shot, go back to lesson number one: Be flexible, and move on. Prove ’em wrong. Success is the best revenge.
You will discover criticism is just a necessary price for success.