14 Graduation Quotes From Our Favorite Authors

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If you're graduating this year, then I want to say congratulations! You've made it. Everyone's been lying to you, and life after college is super easy and rewarding (just kidding). But even if the future feels a little uncertain, and you're worried that you're going to go straight from school to a void of failure and ennui (you're probably not), you should be proud of yourself. And then you should read these 14 quotes about graduating, so that you can paraphrase them to all your friends and pretend to be deep.

Whether you're graduating from college, high school, grad school, or private mutant academy, you probably have a lot of feelings right now. You might be raring to go, with endless opportunities for unpaid internships laid out before you. You might be clinging desperately to the relative safety of your college friends, your campus bar, and your ironically named improv troupe. Or you may just feel so intensely over school as a concept that you're fully prepared to do anything else with your life, as long as you don't have to run into your freshman year ex at 2 a.m. in the library anymore.

No matter how you're feeling about graduation, an extra dose of inspiration never hurts. So here are some wise words (and some irreverent words) from authors on the subject of graduating and moving forward:

1. The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor.

― Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

2. Congratulations!Today is your day You're off to great places You're off and away You've got brains in your head You've got feet in your shoes You can steer yourself any Direction you choose

― Dr. Suess, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

3. You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.

― J.K. Rowling, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

4. Just because you don't know what you want yet, it doesn't mean that there's nothing to want.

― Emily Henry, The Love That Split the World

5. “Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

6. Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life. What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.

― Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

7. Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.

― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

8. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. That is being taught how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the "rat race" — the constant, gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

― David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

9. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.

― Maya Angelou, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now

10. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

11. ...I'm worried I will leave grad school and no longer be able to speak English. I know this woman in grad school, a friend of a friend, and just listening to her talk is scary. The semiotic dialetics of intertextual modernity. Which makes no sense at all. Sometimes I feel that they live in a parallel universe of academia speaking acadamese instead of English and they don't really know what's happening in the real world.

― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

12. To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight: and never stop fighting.

― e.e. cummings, A Poet's Advice to Students

13. You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.

― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

14. It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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