Get Busy Being Yourself

As we’ve been talking about “how to find your onlyness”, I thought you might like this nugget of wisdom from Shonda Rhimes:

I did not dream of being a TV writer. Never, not once when I was here in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, did I say to myself, “Self, I want to write TV.”

You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize Winning Author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue sky-ed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, fyi. Anyway, there I was in that basement, I was dreaming of being Nobel Prize Winning Author Toni Morrison. Guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up. One day I was sitting in that basement and I read an article in the NY Times that said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. I could dream about being Toni Morrison. Or I could do. At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.

This is excerpted from Rhimes talk to Dartmouth graduates, full link to text and video here. And in long form: https://medium.com/thelist/shonda-rhimes-real-talk-for-dartmouth-grads-dreams-are-for-losers-afd77eaea5d9

2 Responses:

  1. Wendy Zito. February 2, 2015 at 7:43 am  |  

    Nice quote from the Dartmouth talk. I had no idea in high school there was even a profession of what I do today so I could not have even dreamed about it. I will bet that is true of you too Nilofer. Hope Paris is not too cold. Wendy

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. February 2, 2015 at 8:19 am  |  

      You find new forks of the path only after you start walking is what I’m noticing…

      Reply

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