Go Out There and Do Something Remarkable. Don’t Live Down To Expectations

Wendy Wasserstein? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: We are told that people should live up to expectations. Yet, the chronically underestimated are implicitly told to live down to expectations. A graduation speaker once told an audience to do something remarkable and to refuse to live down to expectations. Would you please help me to trace this guidance?

Quote Investigator: U.S. playwright Wendy Wasserstein received a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her 1988 drama “The Heidi Chronicles”. She delivered the commencement address at her alma mater Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts in 1990 offering graduating students the following encouragement. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Take all the goodness, honesty, intelligence, toughness, and wit that you have learned here and don’t compromise them. So much has been written about the women of the nineties. My response is the women of the nineties have yet to make their mark. Go out there and do something remarkable. Don’t live down to expectations. The women of the nineties are you.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. Website: Alumnae Association Mount Holyoke College, Section title: Alumnae Speakers at Commencement, Article title: Wendy Wasserstein ’71, Commencement in 1990, Date on website: December 19, 2016, Website description: Information from the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, an academic institution for women in South Hadley, Massachusetts. (Accessed alumnae.mtholyoke.edu on December 13, 2019) link