Author Neil Gaiman’s Inspirational Commencement Speech to The University of the Arts Class of 2012

Award-winning author and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman delivered an inspirational keynote commencement speech to the 2012 graduating class at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gaiman, who confessed that he never graduated from “an establishment of higher education” was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts (HDFA) by The University of the Arts.

Here is an excerpt from his beautiful speech from the official transcript:

The problems of failure are hard.

The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them.

The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.

In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.

The problems of success. They’re real, and with luck you’ll experience them. The point where you stop saying yes to everything, because now the bottles you threw in the ocean are all coming back, and have to learn to say no.