11 Poems Every Twenty-Something Needs To Print Out & Tape To Their Mirror

by Kerri Jarema
Lucas Ottone/Stocksy

You've probably heard it before: your twenties will be the hardest decade of your life. Of course, everyone has their own experiences, and for some the years between 20 and 29 might be filled with nothing but rainbows and butterflies. But for so many of us, this period is rife with confusion, lots of hard work, personal and professional confusion, and more slip-ups than one can count. But, if you know where to look, this time can also be one of inspiration, and learning the most about who you are and want you want from your life in the decades to come. One thing that has definitely helped me most whenever I felt like I just couldn't get a grip? Reading... wheter it be novels, essays, or poetry.

Below are 11 poems that will keep you grounded during your twenties, no matter what roadblock you come up against. If you need general life inspiration, self-confidence, motivation, advice, commiseration, whatever; one or more of the poems below are sure to become favorites for you. Bookmark these to return to on the days when being in your twenties seems like some sort of cosmic joke — I guarantee you'll feel better about being in the thick of it right now.

'The Summer Day' by Mary Oliver

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Click here to read.

'How to Triumph Like a Girl' by Ada Limón

Don’t you want to believe it?

Don’t you want to lift my shirt and see

the huge beating genius machine

that thinks, no, it knows,

it’s going to come in first.

Click here to read.

'Imaginary Conversation' by Linda Pastan

But why the last? I ask. Why not

live each day as if it were the first—

all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing

her eyes awake that first morning,

the sun coming up

like an ingénue in the east?

Click here to read.

'Little Prayer' by Danez Smith

let ruin end here

let him find honey

where there was once a slaughter

Click here to read.

'Still I Rise' by Maya Angelou

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Click here to read.

'The Good Life' by Tracy K. Smith

When some people talk about money

They speak as if it were a mysterious lover

Who went out to buy milk and never

Came back, and it makes me nostalgic

For the years I lived on coffee and bread

Click here to read.

'Dreams' by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Click here to read.

'Winter Stars' by Sara Teasdale

Years go, dreams go, and youth goes too,

The world’s heart breaks beneath its wars,

All things are changed, save in the east

The faithful beauty of the stars.

Click here to read.

'Her Kind' by Anne Sexton

I have ridden in your cart, driver,

waved my nude arms at villages going by,

learning the last bright routes, survivor

where your flames still bite my thigh

and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.

A woman like that is not ashamed to die.

I have been her kind.

Click here to read.

'Triple Sonnet for my Aggressive Forehead' by Dorothy Chan

Dad thinks my forehead is too Godzilla, too Tarzan, too Wonder Woman,

tells me not to tie my hair back,

exposing it, like it’s the Frankenstein Monster

from beneath my childhood bed,

or the mollusk that challenged the world,

and Dad, I love you, but you should know

that I’m a nightmare as a woman

who can make the earth stand still

Click here to read.

'Hope Is The Thing With Feathers' by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -

Click here to read.