TRUCKEE, Calif. — Be committed and seek happiness.
Those were among several pieces of advice given to 123 Truckee High School seniors who graduated Saturday morning at Surprise Stadium.
“Ten thousand hours of committed practice is what it takes for someone to become really, really, really good at what they choose to do, and you don’t have to be brilliant or talented; you just need to commit the time,” said Mai Nguyen, a local psychiatrist, who was the guest speaker at graduation. “… Do you really know how much time that is? If you have a full-time job, 40-hour weeks, 50 weeks a year, that’s five years of your life to be an expert at what you do.”
Rebecca Berelson, valedictorian for the class of 2014, recommended her classmates not commit all of their time to work — a lesson she learned in her pursuit to graduate at the top of the class.
“Being such an opportunist and so committed to a lofty goal forced me into reclusion, alone, stressed, tired and scared of the future,” she told graduates and the hundreds of family, friends and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District officials in attendance. “I sacrificed my happiness just to succeed, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has dealt with this pressure to succeed.
“I have experienced this all through high school, and even though this pressure came largely from myself, I should tell you it knocked me down. Rather than providing you with a sense of purpose and accomplishment like I had envisioned, it was simply unfulfilling.”
Instead, she advised others to seek happiness over achievement.
“Learn from my mistake and define success so it doesn’t only mean materialism and recognition, something our society fosters, but rather is the embodiment of having love, respect and meaningful relationships in your life,” Berelson said. “… Instead of climbing a ladder of achievement or only ever wishing for more, I will attempt to live a happy life, where learning is important not for a grade sake, but for its intriguing content; where relationships with loved ones will keep me rooted and sincere; and where the measure of my success is not being the best, but rather being happy.”
The power to define time and happiness is up to each graduate, however.
“You all have the same gift in front of you, right here, right now, the same gift, the same opportunity to invest your next 10,000 hours in whatever you love,” Nguyen said. “You own this time. … You just need to take it, invest it wisely, infuse it with action and passion. So go, and do something brilliant, something surprising, something delightful.”