A couple of years ago, a beautiful thing happened to me. A beautiful little gift from the universe in the middle of a less than beautiful time in my life. I was sent a review copy of Brave Enough, a collection of Cheryl Strayed quotes on love and life.
This magical little green book was a revelation to me. Each quote is a bite-sized piece of wisdom expressed in a straightforward yet luscious way. When I opened the book, I sat down and read it cover to cover. When I got to the end, I had tears in my eyes. In those quotes, Cheryl had told me what I needed to hear.
I immediately ordered a copy of Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, and proceeded to read it three times in a matter of months. And I am not a re-reader. I also read Strayed’s memoir, Wild. Through her own story she shares some of the amazing wisdom that she shares as Sugar.
Strayed has the rare talent of being able to be bluntly honest in a way that is still tender and stunning. If you haven’t read Tiny Beautiful Things, you should. Want to see what I’m talking about? Here are 30+ Cheryl Strayed quotes on love and life–and some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
“To love and be loved. That is the meaning of life.”
“You don’t need those people. By stepping aside, they’ve done you a favor. Because what you’ve got left after the fools have departed are the old souls and the true hearts. Those are the über cool sparkle rocket mind-blowers we’re after. Those are the people worthy of your love.”
“Go because you want to go. Because wanting to leave is enough.”
“There are so many things to be tortured about, sweet pea. So many torturous things in this life. Don’t let the man who doesn’t love you be one of them.”
“I can’t say when you’ll get love or how you’ll find it or even promise that you will. I can only say you are worthy of it and that it’s never too much to ask for it and that it’s not crazy to fear you’ll never have it again, even though your fears are probably wrong. Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It’s the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It’s worthy of all the hullabaloo.”
“You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.”
“The whole deal about loving truly and for real and with all you’ve got has everything to do with letting those we love see what made us.”
“[R]omantic love is not a competitive sport. Some of those women your boyfriend used to fuck have nicer asses than you. Some are smarter or funnier or fatter or more generous or more messed-up than you. That’s okay. That has no bearing on you whatsoever. You’re not up against those women. You’re running your own race. We don’t dig or not dig people based on a comparison chart of body measurements and intellectual achievements and personality quirks. We dig them because we do.”
“If someone is being unkind or petty or jealous or distant or weird, you don’t have to take it in. You don’t have to turn it into a big psychodrama about your worth. That behavior is so often not even about you. It’s about the person who is being unkind or jealous or petty or distant or weird. If this were summed up on a bumper sticker, it would say: ‘Don’t own other people’s crap.’”
“The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that.”
“We have to be whole people to find whole love, even if we have to make it up for a while.”
“Allow your acceptance to be a transformative experience. You do that by simply looking it square in the face and then moving on. You don’t have to move fast or far. You can go just an inch. You can mark your progress breath by breath.”
“Be clear. Be direct. Be unwavering.”
“I hope when people ask you what you’re going to do with your English and/or creative writing degree you’ll say: ‘Continue my bookish examination of the contradictions and complexities of human motivation and desire;’ or simply: ‘Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters.’ And then smile very serenely until they say, ‘Oh.’”
“This is not the moment to wilt into the underbrush of your insecurities. You’ve earned the right to grow. You’re going to have to carry the water yourself.”
“There’s a crazy lady living in your head. I hope you’ll be comforted to hear you’re not alone. Most of us have an invisible inner terrible someone who says all sorts of nutty stuff that has no basis in truth.”
“We are here to build the house. It’s our work, our job, the most important gig of all: to make a place that belongs to us, a structure composed of our own moral code. Not the code that only echoes imposed cultural values, but the one that tells us on a visceral level what to do.”
“We do not have the right to feel helpless. We must help ourselves. After destiny has delivered what it delivers, we are responsible for our lives.”
“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 becoming.”
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what your plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history of economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.”
“You have to say I am forgiven again and again until it becomes the story you believe about yourself.”
“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue.”
“Forgiveness doesn’t mean you let the forgiven stomp all over you. Forgiveness means you’ve found a way forward that acknowledges harm done and hurt caused without letting either your anger or your pain rule your life or your relationship with the one who did you wrong.”
“Don’t do what you know on a gut level to be the wrong thing to do. Don’t stay when you know you should go or go when you know you should stay. Don’t fight when you should hold steady and don’t hold steady when you should fight. Don’t focus on the short-term fun instead of the long-term fall out.”
“Accept that their actions hurt you deeply. Accept that this experience taught you something you didn’t want to know. Accept that sorrow and strife are part of even a joyful life. Accept that it’s going to take a long time to get that monster out of your chest. Accept that someday what pains you now will surely pain you less.”
“Be about ten times more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of. Your life will be a hundred times better for it.”
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
“I didn’t feel sad or happy. I didn’t feel proud or ashamed. I only felt that in spite of all the things I’d done wrong, in getting myself here, I’d done right.”
“I was a terrible believer in things, but I was also a terrible non believer in things. I was as searching as I was skeptical. I didn’t know where to put my faith, or if there was such a place, or even what the word faith meant, in all of it’s complexity. Everything seemed to be possibly potent and possibly fake.”
“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”
“So much of what I’ve learned, so much of what’s good in my life, was learned because something bad happened, or from making the wrong decision. Through bad decisions I learned how to find the ways to make the right ones.”
“Trust your gut. Forgive yourself. Be grateful.”
Looking for more quotes to inspire you? Check out The Best Brené Brown Quotes on Vulnerability, Love, and Belonging, Lidia Yuknavitch Quotes that Will Inspire You, and 45 Literary Quotes About Big, Messy Life Changes.