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Four Quotes from “101 Essays That Will (literally) Change The Way You Think”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve always had a love affair with books. I’m not talking about the ones you read in college or high school — I mean the actual books you choose (or that choose you): those beautifully bound volumes that make up our world’s history, fiction and nonfiction alike. They’re not just repositories of knowledge; they can also be a window into what it means to live well. After reading Brianna Wiest’s 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think, I found each page had thought-provoking advice and relevant information. There is no doubt that this book is worth reading. Here are some quotes from Wiest’s self-help book that will actually change how you think.

“You have to stop believing that you need other people’s permission to be okay with yourself.”

In the world of social media and news, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you need other people’s approval or acceptance. You must stop believing that you need other people’s permission to be okay with yourself. In my opinion, self-acceptance is one of the most important things we can do for our own well-being. It’s also one of those things that can be hard for us because it requires accepting our flaws without judgment or shame, which takes time and practice (and sometimes even a little bit of luck).

“There is nowhere to “arrive” to. The only thing you’re rushing toward is death. Accomplishing goals is not success. How much you expand in the process is.” 

“Success” is not about money, power, or status. Success is living a good life and feeling fulfilled. It’s about being happy with who you are and what you do in life. As Wiest says, “Make plans to build the life you want, not because you hate the one you have, but because you’re in love with the person you know you want to become.” You are the only one who can decide what you want to do. If you want to be an astronaut, then go for it! You should never let fear stop you from doing what’s right for your happiness and growth as a person. In time, those plans will begin to take shape.

“Stress may just be the most dangerous emotion (especially when it’s consistent), yet it goes unaddressed more often than other things.” 

Stress is a normal part of life. It’s what we call it when you’re overwhelmed, overworked, and underpaid. Stress can be a good thing — it helps us to survive in our environment and makes us more organized. But too much stress is bad for your health: it can cause physical symptoms like headaches and insomnia and mental symptoms like depression and anxiety. Stress is often caused by external factors (like work deadlines) or internal factors (like how well we sleep). It’s important to take time for ourselves and decompress when school work becomes too much or working and balancing classes and club events. Taking some time for some breathing exercises and self-care practices can help us deal with the tension that may be building up. The longer we ignore the signs of stress, the worse we will continue to feel. 

“I know it seems like your 20s are designed for the build–a steady progression of acquiring better and more…But your 20s are about unlearning too. Stripping away lukewarm lovers and work you don’t thrive doing and friends you’ve outgrown and limiting the ideas you’ve been leaning on to guide you. You are making room for your actual life to begin.”

One of my favorite quotes from Wiest’s novel emphasizes unlearning. If you’re anything like me, there are some people in your life whom you feel you should be closer to when you really shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s family members who haven’t been giving you an honest relationship or loyalty even though you’re “supposed-to-be-close.” Maybe your friends are more engaged with others, making you feel left out again and again. How do we make room for what we want? We can start by doing things that scare us, by doing things that will make us grow into a person capable of truly understanding ourselves. This is our journey. It illustrates perfectly how much weight we carry as young adults trying to figure things out. Every day we must remind ourselves to be patient with ourselves as we learn and unlearn.

We all have things that keep us from being the person we want to be. It’s easy to fall into habits that limit our potential, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Within Wiest’s collection, her self-help book, 101 Essays that Will change the way you think, you’ll discover essays with life experiences that inspire you — and help you live the life you want. After all, we are just humans trying our best on our own life journeys.

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Diamond Smith

U Mass Amherst '23

A dreamer, storyteller, and DEI advocate for the UMASS Her Campus Chapter. Dedicated to advancing the cause of mental health advocacy, championing social justice, and fostering meaningful social connections.