Matthew McConaughey – University of Houston Commencement Speach

Matthew McConaughey, actor, University of Houston

“I am here to talk brass tacks, to skip the flattery and the ‘attaboys’ because I do know this.

“The sooner we become less impressed — with our life, our accomplishments, our career, the prospect in front of us— and more involved with these things, the sooner we get a whole lot better at doing them.

“Number one: Life’s not easy. Don’t try and make it that way. It’s not fair, it never was, it isn’t now, it won’t ever be. Do not fall into the entitlement trap of feeling you are a victim. You are not. Get over it and get on with it. And yes, most things are more rewarding when you break a sweat to get ’em.

“ … January 3, 1993. NFL playoffs. Your Houston Oilers versus the Buffalo Bills. Oilers up 28–3 at halftime, 35–3 early in the third quarter. Frank Reich and the Bills come back to win 41–38 in overtime for one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. Yeah, the Bills won, but they didn’t really beat the Oilers. The Oilers lost that game. They beat themselves.

“Why? Because at halftime they put a ceiling, a roof, a limit on their belief in themselves, a.k.a the ‘prevent defense.’ Maybe they started thinking about the next opponent at halftime, played on their heels, lost the mental edge the entire second half and voila, they lost. You ever choked? You know what I mean: fumbled at the goal line, stuck your foot in your mouth once you got the microphone, had a brain freeze on the exam you were totally prepared for, forgot the punch line to a joke in front of four thousand graduating students at a University of Houston Commencement speech? What happens when we get that feeling? We tense up … We realize that the moment just got bigger than us. You ever felt that way? I have. It’s because we have created a fictitious ceiling, a roof, to our expectations of ourselves, a limit — where we think it’s all too good to be true. But it isn’t, and it’s not our right to say or believe it is.

“We shouldn’t create these restrictions on ourselves. A blue ribbon, a statue, a score, a great idea, the love of our life, a euphoric bliss. Who are we to think we don’t deserve or haven’t earned these gifts when we get them?”

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