If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need me to tell you that being a 20-something can be a confusing sh*tshow. You leave the security blanket of college and enter this frightening thing called the “real world”, where you have to get a job, you don’t see your friends unless you make an effort to do so, and you are constantly bombarded with questions about what you’re doing with your life. Newsflash: none of us know what we are doing with our lives.
As a self-confessed quotes junkie, I believe quotes are a powerful tool to help navigate these tough times. Here, I’ve amassed 20 quotes that I think speak to the existence of a 20-something:
1. “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis
Every 20-something knows this all too well; we all have experiences that have hurt us in brutal ways. But it is these same experiences that have been our biggest teachers. It is important to remember this when going through tough times.
2. “You’ll be fine. You’re 25. Feeling [unsure] and lost is part of your path. Don’t avoid it. See what those feelings are showing you and use it. take a breath. You’ll be okay. Even if you don’t feel okay all the time.” – Louis C.K.
Do you feel lost and unsure? You’re not the only one, although it may feel that way. Sometimes, all you need is a little reassurance that what you’re feeling is okay, and that you’ll find your way through it.
3. “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss
Appreciate what you have, while you have it. Stop wishing away your time! Before you know it, this moment will be gone and you’ll be wishing you could go back.
4. “I believe that great people do things before they are ready.” – Amy Poehler
If you’re ever feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, confused, happy – basically if you’re feeling emotions – go read some Amy Poehler.
5. “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.” – Michael J. Fox
This is big. It takes time, but when you can stop wrestling with your past and start working through what hurts, that’s when you know you’re ready to move on.
6. “When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry, you know you have healed.” – Unknown
Simple, yet true. I have seen this phenomenon in my friends and in myself. Again, it will take time, and you may not even realize it is happening, but one day you will tell your story, and you will be okay.
7. “For what it’s worth: It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
I think this speaks to a lot of 20-somethings, who feel trapped by a major, by a job, by a city. It is not too late to change your mind, to change your path. You have time.
8. “Anything’s possible, if you’ve got enough nerve.” – J.K. Rowling
Life is big. Life is exciting. But life is also terrifying. The trick, it seems, is to truly take the plunge. Be brave – it might lead to something beautiful.
9. “Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.” – John Mayer
So many of us are so afraid to be alone. Yet the ability to be alone is an important part of life. Embrace solitude every once in a while – you might just learn much more about yourself than you thought.
10. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou
The temporary state of facing defeat must not mean one is defeated. Also, there is a book entirely of Maya Angelou quotes. You should get it.
11. “Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” – Shonda Rhimes
We all have dreams. But what is the most important factor in making them a reality? It’s hard work, guys. Hard work is the only thing that will change your life.
12. “The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.”
– Chief Seattle
It’s time to remember this simple fact. Make the effort to treat the Earth well – for so long we have abused it – after all, it’s the only one we’ve got.
13. “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” – Dumbledore
Ahhh, Dumbledore, that wise old man. This quote has reminded me time and time again that no matter how dark things seem, there is always a way to find happiness if one is willing to look.
14. “Ah yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” – The Lion King
A painful past leaves you two choices. Run away and hide from it or, face your demons head on. Learn from the past. Learn from what hurt you, and use those lessons to become stronger.
15. “You can’t be that kid at the top of the water slide, over thinking it. You have to go down the chute.” – Tina Fey
I think when you’re in your 20s it is all too easy to over think things. Boys, careers, what have you. But we need to be careful. Too much over thinking, too much hesitation – that’s when your life will stagnate.
16. “’Why the f*ck not me?’ should be your motto.” – Mindy Kaling
Well, why not?!
17. “Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them. You know people who are already saying ‘I’m going to be 30 – oh, what am I going to do?’ Well, use that decade! Use them all!” – Betty White
Enjoy your youth. Stay engaged with the world. Because you know what? Every day is important and interesting. Use every. Single. Day. Use them, for someday you will no longer have the luxury of these decades.
18. “Don’t become something just because someone else wants you to, or because it’s easy; you won’t be happy. You have to do what you really, really, really want to do, even if it scares the shit out of you.” – Kristen Wiig
It doesn’t matter if your parents want you to be a doctor. If you want to be something else – a writer, an architect, a photography – do it. Holding on to something you dislike because you were too afraid to say something will eat at you forever. Do what makes you happy.
19. “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway
Writing is cathartic. Writing helps to make sense of the confusing world around us. In words you can find comfort. Write when you’re happy. Write when you’re sad, confused, or angry. Just write.
20. “The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your beginning.” – Cheryl Strayed
This quote is great for several reasons. First, it reminds us that we are not alone in our wanderings, our writings, and our confusion. Everyone else is just as befuddled as you are. Second, it affirms that this is okay. That it will, in fact, get us somewhere in life. And that confidence in yourself and your decisions is crucial to leading the life you want to lead.
This list is by no means the be-all, end-all collection of pertinent quotes, but if at least one quote here helps you out, I’ve done my job. We’re all going through some hard times, but we can all lean on each other – and the wise words of others – to help us make it a little better!