本文节选自J·K·罗琳在哈佛大学2008年毕业典礼上发表的演讲《失败的额外收益与想象力的重要性》（The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination）。由于篇幅较长，我们将分成两期进行连载，大家不要错过哦！
The Fringe Benefits of Failure (I)
Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself and what those closest of…to me expected of me.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do—ever—was [to] write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from 1)impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal 2)quirk that never pay a 3)mortgage or secure a 4)pension.
I know the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon 5)anvil now, but…so they hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English literature. A 6)compromise was reached that 7)in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study modern languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and 8)scuttled off down the classics corridor.
I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek 9)mythology when it came to securing the keys to an 10)executive bathroom.
Now I would like to make it clear—in 11)parenthesis—that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an 12)expiry date on blaming your parents for 13)steering you in the wrong direction. The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticize my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite…agree with them that it is not an 14)ennobling experience. Poverty 15)entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand 16)petty 17)humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is 18)romanticized only by fools.
What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.
At your age, in spite of a 19)distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.
Now I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known heartbreak…hardship or heartache. Talent and intelligence never yet 20)inoculated anyone against the 21)caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of 22)unruffled 23)privilege and 24)contentment.
However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very 25)well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far removed from the average person’s idea of success. So high have you already flown!