At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing storeis, 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 hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.
However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for sucess. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person's idea of success, so high have you already flown.
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
1. in spite of
eg. Their love of life comes in spite of, almost in defiance of, considerable hardship.
eg. I know whatever you try, you'll win out in spite of early difficulties.
2. have a knack for
eg. You have a knack for doing the right thing at the right time.
eg. Some people seem to have a knack for learning a language.
3. for a moment
eg. I don't for a moment think there'll be a divorce.
eg. For a moment I thought I was having hallucinations.
4. be acquainted with
eg. He was well acquainted with the literature of France, Germany and Holland.
eg. I am also looking forward to getting more acquainted with immigration law.
5. be eager to do sth.
eg. Robert was eager to talk about life in the Army.
eg. The company is eager to gain a foothold in Europe.
6. come to pass
eg. I doubt if his promises will ever come to pass.
eg. Many people would like the electoral system to be reformed but I don't believe this will ever come to pass.