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“Who Do You Want To Be?”

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2021

The University of Tasmania recently awarded an honorary doctorate degree to Hannah Gadsby, who then gave an address to the graduating class. Her remarks, in part:

I’m autistic and as such, anxiety is only ever going to be my constant companion. But honestly I don’t know how it’s possible not to be anxious in this world in this moment, unless you’re dead inside and we don’t want that. When my spouse lady Jenney sees me struggling in a whirly gig of anxiety, she has taken to asking me this question: “Don’t panic. Who do you want to be?”

And that is the wisdom I want to share with you today: a question and it’s not even mine. You’re welcome. But I think only a question has the capacity to be flexible enough to be wisdom. Statements are oblivious to the nuance of you and platitudes are nothing but idea corpses you have to reanimate as best you can, but a question always leaves room for you. So please make sure you bring yourself along for this, right?

Don’t panic. Who do you want to be? That is the question.

You can watch Gadsby’s entire address in the video above. I am thankful to Laura Olin for bringing this to my, and now your, attention.