Reflecting on ULS with Viola Davis

As the semester draws to a close and the impending doom of finals week approaches, I think it may be helpful to reflect on the wise advice from the Queen, Viola Davis. A few weeks ago, Davis came to USF and told us how she rose from the depths of poverty to become one of America’s biggest stars.  

Davis empathized that we need to “Keep on Slaying Dragons, until we find that elixir….”  

Whether it’s exams or finding internships or just struggling with confidence, these problems are our personal dragons we need to slay. At a very young age Viola Davis knew that she wanted to act. She vowed from that point on to tackle horrible home life, poverty, racism, and ultimately achieve her dream.  She slayed her dragons.  

Your goals may not to become a Hollywood star or solve world peace, but maybe to get all A’s or find that dream internship you’ve been searching for. So when you are pulling an all-nighter, you are not just studying for finals but slaying another dragon that stands in your way of achieving greatness.  

Makes studying for that final seem a lot more exciting, huh?  

But killing your essay or studying your ass off for your finals is just one type of dragon you will need to slay. Davis talked about how even after she had succeeded as an actress and left her home life, she still was not happy. She still had dragons she needed to slay. Davis could not accept herself, her past, and had serious confidence issues that were holding her back. In our own lives, especially at end of spring semester, many students seem to fall into that cycle of self-loathing. We tell ourselves we are not good enough to get an internship. We question if we are good enough to make it in our future careers. Can we make an A in this class?  Are we smart enough? Are we capable enough?  

Many students feel stuck, depressed, and anxious at this point in the semester. How do we overcome these feelings?  

Davis learned to accept her past accept that this was a part of her story of who she is. We need to do the same and accept our own past failures, and the fact that we make mistakes. Accept who we are at this moment and what we are capable of now so we can become unstuck. So, we can move on and become capable of more. Becoming self-confident and self-assured is a process. It may take years before we are completely comfortable in the skin we are in. But we can start by forgiving ourselves and not feeling ashamed. In Davis’ speech she emphasizes how being ashamed is a waste of time. If we can forgive ourselves we can slay another dragon and will be closer to achieving our long term goals.  

Once we can accept and forgive ourselves we won’t be afraid to take risks. We won’t be afraid to apply for those internships, apply for those scholarships, and conquer our exams. Davis also made it a point to do things if we are afraid or as she said if “you are afraid to die, die afraid.” Conquering fears, accepting ourselves, and getting on our work done our ways we can not only achieve our goals but also find what Davis calls our elixir. The elixir is finding that point in life we were are completely confident and happy with what we are doing in life. A place Davis feels she did not completely reach success

until she was 49. So, remember you don’t need to beat yourself up for not being where you want to be in life. These things take time, in a mean time remember you are strong warrior slaying dragons and finding your own personal happiness. And according to Davis once we find that elixir we can share our wisdom and help others achieve their goals and find their own elixir.