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Shonda Rhimes: ‘Be a Doer, Not a Dreamer’

Happy birthday to Ms. Rhimes, born Jan. 13, 1970! We celebrate her and all her remarkable achievements, and repost this June 2014 article featuring the priceless advice the alumna imparted to grads in the commencement speech she delivered at her her alma mater, Dartmouth College.

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Shonda Rhimes gave Dartmouth’s commencement address this year, and she advised the graduates to be more focused on action than dreaming. An excerpt of her speech is below:

Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.

So, Lesson One, I guess, is, ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do.

So you think, ‘I wish I could travel.’ Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok and go. Right now. I’m serious. You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.

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