Natalie Portman Gives Harvard Commencement Address & It’s Far From Your Typical “Yay, Grads!” Speech — VIDEO
Natalie Portman stopped by her old stomping grounds to drop some serious wisdom. Speaking at her Alma Mater's graduation ceremony, Natalie Portman gave Harvard graduates refreshingly candid advice and honesty. She encouraged them to take their own paths and revealed that her time at the school was not all sunshine and roses.
Portman, who arrived at Harvard in 1999, talked about feeling like there must have been a mistake and feeling like every time she spoke, she would have to prove that she was more than an actress. She touched on some "dark times" she experienced while adjusting to her difficult academic schedule at the school. She admitted that she experienced her first heartbreak while there, as well as depressive side effects from now-discontinued birth control pills and from missing too much sunlight during the winter months. She even explained how it was difficult at times to get out of bed in the morning.
Though parts of her story are sad to hear, they're important to hear, too, especially for recent graduates. It is worth applauding Portman for not romanticizing her time in college, because she can show better than anyone that a happy success story does not always start while you're still in school.
In our society, just because a person is able to get into and graduate from a prestigious school does not mean that their life is perfect. As Portman explained in her speech, typical academic stress coupled with heightened expectations from others can be quite a difficult struggle to manage. On top of that, just because you pursue a certain subject or major in college, does not mean that's going to end up being your life's calling. Portman is a great example, since she did indeed graduate with a psychology degree in 2003. But as we all know, she returned to acting and the rest is history.
In that same vein, she cheered on the new alums to explore their own individuality in the way that best suits them. It was likely inspiring to those who, like her, may not have had the best experience at the school and were eager to move on to the next chapter. But her advice was really good food for thought for any alum. She said,
You can never be the best. The only thing you can be the best at is developing your own self. Make use of the fact that you don't doubt yourself too much right now. As we get older we get more realistic, and that realism does us no favors.
Check out Portman's entire speech in the video below, and see what you think!