5 Inspiring Quotes to Take You From the Depths of Despair & Into the White Way of Delight
The first time I picked up Anne of Green Gables at the library, I must have been about eight. The title seemed a bit familiar, as I vaguely recalled having seen a PBS Sunday special featuring a red-headed girl, sobbing over a green-tinged dye job gone wrong. It was a big, glossy hardcover, its corners still sharp and its spine still sturdy, and — to my delight — made use of watercolor illustrations. The chapter titles were written in the kind of flowery script that would enchant any eight-year-old girl. I took it home.
I read that book everywhere — at Grandma’s kitchen table alongside my graham crackers and frosting, on the merry-go-round at recess, and even in the car until I discovered my stomach wasn’t cut out for it. This feisty drama queen named Anne, who always said the wrong thing (kind of like me), was my kindred spirit. I fell headlong into the pages and reached for the second book in the series, and the third and fourth. My third grade teacher surprised me one Christmas with the entire boxed set. Anne Shirley, with her grandiose soliloquies and thirst for life, had stolen my world.
My elementary school was a one-room schoolhouse in the middle of a cornfield — the perfect place for cultivating a wild, starry-eyed imagination. While the town kids were unsticking their legs from scalding slides in August, we country kids were off running around in the woods behind the school, stretching our fifteen minutes into what seemed like glorious, other-worldly hours. I could almost imagine Anne there beside me, soaking up the simple joys of childhood. She would have loved it.
The kids in town, though — the ones at the Big School — didn’t really understand my wild imaginings and weren’t very interested in pretending that surrounding cornfields were really kingdoms. This made my transition into Middle School a lonely one — but Anne was always there, clutched between my chest and my binder. Anne wasn’t embarrassed of her imagination. She wasn’t embarrassed of her love for stories or her smarts. She reminded me that it was okay to be me, even if I did stick out a little.
I’m an adult now, and Anne still keeps me company. In a society where efficiency is king and taking the time to relish sunsets could apparently be better spent on emails, Anne’s simple wisdom is more important than ever. She’s a goldmine of quotable inspiration, and when I’m really starting to feel the weight of the work week or the never-ending chaos on the news, I close my eyes and channel my inner Anne Shirley. Since I know we can all use a little perspective from time to time, I’ve put together my top five favorite — ahem — Anne-spirations to stash in your pocket for the next time you’re in the “depths of despair” or just need a little pick-me-up in the midst of your adulting.
5. “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
This is a great one to remember when you’re feeling lonely, or like the world around you doesn’t care. It’s easy to focus on the people who’ve hurt us, or even on the coworkers who annoy us, but when it comes down to it kindred spirits really are hanging around. You just have to look for them.
4. “It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
Oh, here’s another one that requires some effort on our part. Yes, it’s easier to wallow and moan about whatever in life isn’t living up to our standards. But Anne’s right — enjoyment often has more to do with our mindset than with the nature of the thing itself.
3. “I went looking for my dreams outside of myself and discovered, it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it.”
The world is an exciting place, as Anne herself has many times remarked. We humans are also exciting, though, and it’s within us that the real magic happens. Once we nurture our own inner sparks, we can get some real sparkle started on the outside, too. We are the fireworks. The world is our night sky. Perhaps Katy Perry loves Anne Shirley, too.
2. “Dear old world…you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”
Next time you fight with your partner, or the next time you lose your job or miss a flight, try whispering this one to yourself. Remember it also for the tiny things: when you’re walking home from the bus stop and notice the leaves turning color or the flowers in bloom. It’s a simple way to remind ourselves that there is always something good, no matter how small.
1. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
Let that sink in a moment. There’s a reason this one’s my Number One. We’ve all been there, right? It’s that end to a terrible, seemingly infinite day, when you just want to fall into bed and escape into sleep because you know that you made it through. The next day will be a blank slate. The early morning, yesterday’s tomorrow, when the sun is just starting to blink awake and the sky is pink and the streets are quiet, has no mistakes. It’s yours to beautify.
As it turns out, Anne Shirley, our beloved childhood heroine who got us through youth, can teach us a lot about basking in the simple joys of adult life, too. I hope that the next time you need some encouragement, you’ll think of this cherished kindred spirit and her unwavering zest for life. Go ahead: channel your inner Anne. You may not have carrot-red hair, you may never have worn puffed sleeves to the prom, and you may thank God daily that your parents didn’t name you Cordelia, but I’m convinced we’ve all got a little Anne in us just the same.