Natalie Portman, the Academy Award-winning actress, returned to Harvard Wednesday afternoon to address graduating seniors during the annual Class Day celebration in summery Tercentenary Theatre.
About the Speaker
Natalie Portman (June 9, 1981) is an Israeli-born American (with dual citizenship) actress, producer, and director. Her first role was in the 1994 action thriller Léon: The Professional, opposite Jean Reno, but mainstream success came when she was cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (released in 1999, 2002 and 2005).In 1999, she enrolled at Harvard University to study psychology while still working as an actress. She completed a bachelor's degree in 2003.
I have to admit that today, even 12 years after graduation, I'm still insecure about my own worthiness
Today I feel much like I did when I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999," the now 33-year-old explained. "I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.
When I got to Harvard, just after the release of 'Star Wars: Episode 1,' I feared people would assume I had gotten in just for being famous and not worthy of the intellectual rigor here. And they would not have been far from the truth. When I came here, I had never written a 10-page paper before. I was alarmed and intimidated by the calm eyes of fellow students who thought that the workload here was easy compared to high school. I was completely overwhelmed, and thought that reading 1,000 pages a week was unimaginable or that writing a 50-page thesis was something that I could never do.
I had been acting since I was 11 but I thought that acting was too frivolous and certainly not meaningful. I came from a family of academics and was very concerned with being taken seriously," she told the crowd.
Some combination of being 19, dealing with my first heartbreak, taking birth control pills that have since been taken off the market for their depressive side affects, and spending too much time missing daylight during winter months led me to some pretty dark moments particularly during sophomore year," she explained. "There were several occasions I started crying during meetings with professors, overwhelmed with what I was supposed to pull off when I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning.
When I got to my graduation, after four years of trying to get excited about something else, I admitted to myself that I couldn't wait to go back and make more films," Portman told the students. "I wanted to tell stories, imagine the lives of others, and help others to do the same. My Harvard degree represents to me the curiosity and invention that we're encouraged here, the friendships I've maintained.
Make use of the fact that you don't doubt yourself too much right now," she urged graduates. "As we get older, we get more realistic and that includes about our own abilities or lack thereof. That realism does us no favors."
"Fear protects us in many ways, but what has served me is diving into my own obliviousness," Portman explained. "Being more confident than I should be ... trying things that you never would have tried. Your inexperience is an asset in that it will make you think in original, unconventional ways. Accept your lack of knowledge and use it as your asset.
The point is, if I had known my own limitations, I never would have taken the risk, and the risk led to one of my greatest personal and professional achievements,
The most fulfilling things I've experienced have truly been the human interactions.
Getting out of your own concerns and caring about someone else's life for a while reminds you that you are not the center of the universe.
你們已獲得獎勵，或至少明天就能得到，這個獎勵就是哈佛學位。但你們取得學位背後的理由是什麼？對我來說，哈佛學位代表我們在這裡激發的好奇心和創造力，以及延續至今的友誼。Graham教授教導我不要描述光照在花朵上的情景，而是描述花朵投射的陰影；Scarry教授闡述戲劇是一種變革性的宗教力量；Coslin教授展現想像力如何激發視覺皮層的活性。當然，這些知識不一定有助於回答我最常遇見的問題：你穿什麼品牌的服裝？你的養生方法是什麼？你有什麼化妝技巧？但我不曾對提出那些之前認為愚蠢的問題感到尷尬，我的哈佛學位和其他獎項都是我獲得這些經歷的象徵。木質地板演講廳、五彩繽紛的秋天落葉、熱Toscanini冰淇淋、在有軟墊的圖書館座椅上閱讀精彩的小說、在學校餐廳邊跑邊喊著：「嗚、哈，City Steps! City Steps! City Steps!」如今浪漫地回想起身處此地的時光十分容易，但我也曾在這裡度過一段艱苦的歲月。19歲時，我面臨許多挫折：面對第一次失戀；服用因憂鬱症副作用而下架的避孕藥；在冬季花費太多時間想念陽光，使我度過一段相當黑暗的時光。尤其是大二那年，我好幾次在跟教授開會時落淚，因不知該如何是好而崩潰，早上幾乎起不了床。那段時間我對課業的座右銘是：「只求完成，不求完美。」只要能完成作業，即使得吃下超大包sour patch kids 軟糖才能完成10頁論文。我感到已完成一件大事，我不斷對自己說：「只求完成，不求完美。」