Pete Davis – Commit to Something

Have you ever found yourself scrolling mindlessly through Netflix unsure of what to watch? While infinitely browsing, you stumble upon half-watched TV shows you were peer-pressured into trying and leftover documentaries you never got around to… This is what Harvard law student Pete Davis calls ‘the defining characteristic of our generation’. This inspiring speech will change the way you view life.


It’s late at night, and you start browsing Netflix, looking for something to watch. You scroll through different titles. You even read a few reviews. But you just can’t commit to watching any given movie. Suddenly, it’s been 30 minutes, and you’re still stuck in infinite browsing mode. So, you just give up. You’re too tired to watch anything now. So, you cut your losses, and fall asleep.

I’ve come to believe that this is the defining characteristic of our generation. Let’s call it, keeping our options open. Leaving home, and coming here is a lot like entering a long hallway. You walk out of the room in which you grew up, and into this place with thousands of different doors to infinitely browse. When Hollywood tells tales of courage, they usually take the form of slaying the dragon. It’s all about the big, brave moments. The most menacing dragons that stand in the way, are the everyday boredom, and distraction, and uncertainty that can erode our ability to commit to anything for the long haul.

As I’ve grown older here, I’ve also started seeing the downsides of having so many open doors. Nobody wants to be stuck behind a locked door, but nobody wants to live in a hallway, either. It’s great to have options when you lose interest in something, but I’ve learned here that the more times I do this, the less satisfied I am with any given option. And lately, the experiences I crave, are less the rushes of novelty, and more those perfect Tuesday nights, when you eat dinner with the friends who you have known for a long time, who you’ve made a commitment to, and who won’t quit you because they found someone better.

We may have come here to help keep our options open, but I leave believing that the most radical act we can take is to make a commitment to a particular thing, to a place, to a profession, to a cause, to a community, to a person, to show our love for something by working at it for a long time, and to close doors, and forego options for its sake.

We need not be afraid, for we have in our possession, the antidote to our dread: our time, free to be dedicated, to the slow but necessary work of turning visions into projects, values into practices, and strangers into neighbors. We should pick a damn movie, and see it all the way through.