I’m going to hit you with something deep. You know, your authentic self is constantly trapped under the weight of the most negative forces in this world. And it will be an everyday battle. You know, sometimes I felt, and you will feel, that who you are is hidden away like a piece of really great jewelry that you keep in a box, and you only take it out during special occasions. Yet your everyday persona is a type of demonic possession. But the demons aren’t gargoyles or red-faced men with horns, but everyone else’s dreams, desires, definitions of success, greed, the pursuit of personality instead of character, the exchange of love and family, for money and possessions, entitlement with no sense of responsibility, and the most frightening demon of all, lack of purpose.
If I do not know who I am, it is because I think I am the sort of person everyone around me wants to be. Perhaps I’d never asked myself whether I really wanted to become whatever everyone else seems to want to become. Perhaps if I only realized that I do not admire what everyone seems to admire, I would really begin to live after all. You see the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born. Now I have only been able to slay dragons when I have kept these two important facts in sharp focus, because at some point in life, it will indeed suck. Loss of a loved one, health issues, marriage, children, loss of passion, the discovery that what you thought you wanted in life … you don’t. You veer off course, but all that while, that purpose, that thing that you were specifically, divinely made for will be looming in front of you.
Stumbling at times, yelling internally, “Help me”, happy, disillusioned, exhausted, fulfilled, knowing that I am giving all I am, all I really am, to this life. It’s said that humans are the only creatures that stay at their mother’s bosoms the longest. Perhaps that’s why when we are thrust into the world, we flail and thrash, looking for a sanctuary, answers, to be saved. The good news is that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, and as for the demons…you exorcise them. How? To those who say, “What is my purpose?” I say, “You know.” And to those who know, I say, “Jump!”
-Viola Davis, Providence College commencement address, May 2012