Don’t just be yourself… be all of yourself.

Joss Whedon, the famous screenwriter behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, gave a commencement speech to the class of 2013 at Wesleyan University. He shared the words of the speaker at his own graduation, Bill Cosby, “You’re not going to change the world, so don’t try,” and promptly turned that advice, along with the clichéd advice you hear at almost every graduation, on its head.

Whedon tells us to embrace the contradictions. He touches on the way our body seems to directly contradict our brain’s ambitions (it just wants to make babies and turn into mulch, apparently). He also muses on the tension and contradiction that inherently exists as part of human connection, and asks us to see the value in it. And finally, he asks us to accept the contradictions that exist within us all. “You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself…To accept duality is to earn identity.”

As for changing the world?

“[T]hat’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is.”

You can hear the speech for yourself, or read some more of the transcribed sections over at brainpickings.

Professional emails: get ‘em right

There are many genres that a writer could work in on any given day. But there is one task that almost every writer (or really, almost any professional) faces in their day to day.

Email. It’s a seemingly straightforward task… yet somehow it can be so nerve-wracking in a professional setting. Many people never receive any instruction in how to craft a professional email, so here are some quick tips:

  1. Sound like a human being. It seems obvious, but if you’re not careful you can sound like one of those pre-recorded telephone messages. Don’t work off a template and fill in blanks.
  2. Don’t rush. Emails are meant to be concise. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a sentence or two to ease into the main content. This is especially important with an email to a stranger or new acquaintance.
  3. Be polite. Again, you would think it’s common sense, but it never hurts to add “please” and “thank you” to any requests. Variations on “thank you” can often make great closers.
  4. Proofread. Gmail has this great feature that allows you to give yourself a buffer after hitting the send button. Those ten seconds can be a lifesaver if you notice a flaw at just the right time. But you can avoid the problem all together by giving each email a quick proofread and edit before pulling the trigger.

Another perspective on writing professional emails can be found at Problogger.

What can you do in 30 seconds?

30 second exposure photograph

This photographer used a 30 second exposure… at 10pm at night. (submitted to reddit by user onthenextlevel)

Whether you’re waiting in line, waiting for your computer to restart, or staring at the countdown for your leftovers in the microwave, your life is full of short chunks of time. It’s tempting to dismiss these as useless, but there’s a lot that can be accomplished in 30 seconds. My personal 30 second wonder is in the kitchen. For the duration of the microwave count, I like to clean up the clutter or wipe down a few countertops. It’s surprising just how much you can get done. Or, sometimes when I’m sitting in traffic I go over my to-do list and come up with a plan of action.

Check out some other ideas for those tiny moments of downtime here at Lifehacker.

Former WRAC Intern now at Notre Dame

Lexi DakinLexi Dakin, Professional Writing graduate from the class of 2013, has recently taken over as the Coordinator of Soccer Operations for The University of Notre Dame. She manages the social media, video and film exchange, budgeting, travel, promotions, and more for the popular Notre Dame women’s soccer team. Dakin was previously employed as one of our Communications Interns here at WRAC. Congratulations!