As I approach my 25th birthday this weekend, it is weird thinking about how I have passed through so much of my life already. When I was in college, I used to think that I was in a holding station, waiting for my life to start. Now that I am here, the point where I always wanted to be, I am looking back at five quotes that I connect with and that are a part of how I try to live my life.
• “This is life. Bad things happen. It’s hard. You find your people, you find your person, and you lean on them.” – “Grey’s Anatomy”
I am not a “Grey’s Anatomy” fan, but I always resonate with this quote whenever I see it. I have come to a point in my life where I am not as excited about material things as I am when I get to see my boyfriend after work or my parents on laundry day or my brother whenever we decide on a good day to see “The Martian.”
Having a Michael Kors handbag or a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” poster would be great, but the excitement of having items fades, especially when dating someone whose pit bull does not know the difference between a chew toy and an expensive purse.
Items stay the same, but my family and friends continue to surprise me and make me laugh and make me feel cherished.
• “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G. K. Chesterton.
As a writer and lover of books and stories in general, I love the hope that stories can provide. They tell us that our lives matter, that dark times can be overcome, that love is real and can last forever. They give us the opportunity to live a multitude of experiences, and they can simply make us feel powerful emotions.
Those who read fiction also tend to be more empathetic toward others, according to a 2012 Stanford University study and a 2013 Emory University study.
The act of reading fiction temporarily puts the reader in the shoes of the character in the story, allowing the reader to feel what the character feels and become more empathetic towards others in real life.
• “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale.
Sometimes I have a bad habit of putting off the tasks I want to accomplish, such as writing more fiction or getting back into painting. This reminds me that I might as well try — even if a cake recipe is more entertaining that my first draft or my painting looks like sewage lost in a swamp or others just sort of shrug after looking at my work— because time will go by no matter what. I might as well enjoy that time passing by anyway.
• “I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman
At the end of the day, that is the good life to me.
• “Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah Blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to be truly affected by things.” – Zooey Deschanel.
Being in the business that I am in – journalism, reporting, writing, putting my work out there to be judged and scrutinized by loved ones and strangers alike – I have been told that I need to develop a thick skin.
But that is not who I am. I do not want to shut the world out. I am an emotional person, but that does not mean that I am not strong. I want to empathize with people, and I want to feel their pain, too. I want to see through multiple perspectives. I do not think I can do that properly hiding beneath thick skin.
On hard days when the hits and attacks and criticisms keep coming, sometimes I have to pay extra attention for the kindness that there is in the world. Sometimes it is a waitress or a pizza delivery person who is the first person to be nice to me all day. Maybe that person does not realize how valuable that small exchange can be to me, but sometimes it puts me one step back from becoming jaded.
Other times, it goes back to the first quote. Remembering that even if I fail, even if I misquote a source or write an article people are disappointed in or accidentally back into another car in a parking lot – which happened this week and was an embarrassing first for me – I still have my people. That, too, is worth fighting becoming jaded and burnt out at 25 years old.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall