Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Had Known When I Was 18

Now in his 50s, British writer and actor Stephen Fry offers some pearls of wisdom for the young (but they’re no less valuable for those a bit longer in the tooth). Don’t set yourself goals. (They keep you from fulfilling who you really are.) Keep your ego in check. (You’ll be better liked, and more opportunities will come your way.) Have heroes. Get outside your comfort zone. The list goes on…

Related Note: We recently featured a Cambridge University video – The Strange New World of Nanoscience – narrated by Stephen Fry. Worth a watch.

via Alec Couros aka @courosa

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Comments (24)
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  • Jonathan says:

    Anyone else see the irony in a twitterer such as Stephen Fry berate the ‘self obsessed’ on the internet?

  • Hannah says:

    It’s not especially self-obsessed to want to talk about yourself, or about other things that you care about, to people who are interested. And people who decide to visit your twitter, or even follow it, have definitely expressed an interest. It’s more self-obsessed to want to push your opinions onto people who aren’t interested (just saying what you “think” without even bothering to see what others have to say, so convinced you’re right, for expample), and a lot more of that goes on in comments etcetera. Although it’s a fine line, of course.

  • harpreet Kaur says:

    I do love that. ‘abdigation of one self ‘.
    it seems natural, one should be naturally more inquisitive about things we don’t know and all things other than ourselves.

  • Kelly says:

    lol…if you catch yourself saying me or I too much your on the wrong track…but Richard’s constant use of “you should” and “you should not” might be just as if not more isolating and repellent. ;-)

  • Hank says:

    dan – just about everything on your site has been a good, very good, and sometimes great pick…but for this one. sorry. i agree with the commenters above.

  • Dan Colman says:

    I didn’t exactly think this item would get panned. Seemed like a less likely suspect than other things I’ve posted here. Guess you never know.


  • Bryon says:

    I thought this was wonderful Dan. I loved the final line:

    “All the big words—virtue, justice, truth—are dwarfed by the greatness of kindness.”

  • Brian says:

    Well I thought it was a very nice video. Thanks for posting it, Dan.

  • Thanks for posting our video, Dan. Lots more at Carpe Diem.

  • Greg Battye says:

    I also think it’s an excellent piece. Anyone who thinks that Stephen Fry is talking primarily about himself simply hasn’t listened. It’s not unusual — in fact I’d say it’s part of the same ailment — for poor listeners to accuse others of talking excessively about themselves. Thanks, Dan, for a very worthwhile and thoughtful contribution.

  • Pokksey says:

    What they said…

  • Bill says:

    Stephen Fry isn’t reading this.

  • Gia says:

    I thought this was great. Thanks for uploading.

  • Bess says:

    I wish I could can this for my children to watch when they get older… I thought it was an excellent piece.

  • Amina Farooq says:

    Hi Dan, I’m in my first year of med. school, and just spent 13 hours of my day studying; this was such a wonderful and refreshing break. Thank you. :)

  • Hogarth says:

    After hearing Mr. Fry’s words about those who post in the comments section, it is at least a little ironic to find – mirabile dictu – the very nattering nabobbery described in this very spot, including this.
    How anyone can disagree with this utterly reasonable man…well, there it is, I suppose – the human condition.

  • Mary Moritz says:

    All I could think of was how I could get best pass this on for others to watch. I was really surprised when I started reading comments and they were negative. I guess it’s the little puppy barking. I plan to watch this many times because there are many simple but elusive points of logic that struck a chord with me. Thanks.

  • Leah says:

    Jonathon, it is not self-obsessed to have a Twitter account. A lot of celebrities do. It’s a way of keeping connected with their fans, which keeps the fans happy. Some celebs do it because they genuinely appreciate their fans and just want to do it for fun. Others recognise it as a good PR move. Keep the fans happy, you stay on their “favourite actor/comedian/director/singer” list and they’ll be more likely to go and buy your next CD or go see your next movie.

  • Patrick says:

    This is immensely inspirational, but it could be taken as a tad righteous for some, as he wants us to share his values (not for me, because I agree with everything he says). I do the same thing as well sometimes, but I sometimes regret it, since I find that there’s a lot of change in life (and changing what we stand for), and most people are petrified of change. Like a Shakespeare basher, we’re all ignorant at some point in our lives. I adore Shakespeare though.

    Note also that Fry dislikes dislikers (I’m like that too) and
    I wonder if he’s manic. Even if he is, how exciting and good life can be according to Fry! Have your eyes stay open! But the decision is tough to be like this: does one remain a life-mugwump or does one say “Get off the couch, do something with your life, get your belly fire going!” Hmmm, ya, Fry’s right. I’d want him in my mentor-corner.

  • Dan Colman says:

    Hi there,

    Just curious, does anyone know what Facebook page just mentioned our post?

    Dan (Editor)

  • James U says:

    Hey Dan,

    Ariana Huffington just posted the link on the FB profile…guessing that is where the traffic is coming from.


  • Liza Siler says:

    Simply brilliant!!

  • KublaConn says:

    He speaks of “reinventing yourself”, but berates too much ego. “Reinventing yourself” is the ultimate act of superficial self-absorption. How much do the clothes I wear or the color of my hair matter when it comes to being “myself”? Seems that he’s talking in meandering circles.

  • suzanne merwanji says:

    Really disagree with ‘re-inventing yourself’ as an ultimate act of superficial self-absorption………….it’s certainly not just about ‘re-inventing’ your hair-do, what you wear as suggested here – ‘re-invention’ assumes learning and evolving growth, without which what is the point of our very existence? Fry s talking of his experiences and views on life with great insight, it’s really not an egotistical rant………….but of course, you don’t need to listen if you don’t want to…………..

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