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Editorial: Having It All

The headlines in the media this week have been about how women can’t have it all. I think that depends on what you mean by “having it all.”

In her speech, Oyster Bay High School Class of 2012 valedictorian Ashley George, impressed me with what she said.

“I know my message may not be as profound as the typical graduation speech.  I did not talk about how we are going to change the world or use a fancy extended metaphor to express a larger mind-boggling idea.  But, to be totally honest, I do not think those things matter as much.”

I think she gave us a clue as to what matters when she concluded with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson,  “‘To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.’ Congratulations to the class of 2012.  We have indeed succeeded.”

I think Ms. George put it very well: she gave a new definition to success. It is not who makes the most money, or has the most marbles at the end of the game – who breaks the glass ceiling in the corporate world.

Women have different lives than men. We all have different lives than everyone else. The important thing is to have a meaningful life, something that is meaningful to you, not someone else.

That ties in beautifully with what salutatorian  Jamie Zabinsky said in her address. Jamie said, “As the rest of our lives begin, think about the people we are right now; let us learn today… from ourselves, and with our unique discoveries, we will eventually realize the people we want to be.”

We are each so unique. We have to realize that uniqueness and not let others tell us what is and what isn’t success. You can strive to “have it all,” it just means defining what you consider “having it all” is for yourself.

- DFK