This observation comes from celebrated satirist Jonathan Swift’s 1706 collection of essays and one-liners, “Thoughts on Various Subjects.” With this clever turn of phrase, Swift muses that vision is the ability to see not just what’s in front of us, but possibilities, dreams, and triumphs that haven’t happened yet — because that is the first step in being able to pursue them.
Legendary comedian Joan Rivers was just the second woman in U.S. history to helm her own late-night talk show. Before that opportunity arrived in 1986, she spent decades forging a path for future comics. In a 2012 interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Rivers recalled her first break as a comedy writer: scripting dialogue for Topo Gigio, a mouse puppet slated to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” While Topo Gigio’s 1961 debut could have been a one-off occurrence, Rivers’ words connected with the audience, and the puppet enjoyed an 11-year run on the series. During this time, Rivers became a familiar face on both “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” By consistently recognizing and accepting challenges, she expanded her career into the realms of author and entrepreneur. Saying yes to opportunities is how you discover what you’re good at, and what you love.
Although Sylvia Plath won a Pulitzer Prize for her book “The Collected Poems,” she is perhaps best known for “The Bell Jar,” a 1963 novel based on events that shaped her life. Alfred A. Knopf, Plath’s first American publisher, passed on “The Bell Jar” twice. But through the author’s strong belief in her talent and her dedication, she acquired a measured response to such brushoffs. Plath understood that professional writing meant courting criticism — first from editors, then reviewers, and finally readers. Rather than fretting over responses she couldn’t control, Plath celebrated each time she was vulnerable enough to send her work out into the world.
First Lady Abigail Adams and second U.S. President John Adams were the earliest occupants of the White House. From the start of their courtship until the end of their public service, the couple exchanged more than 1,100 letters. These historical documents verify that Abigail was her husband’s closest political adviser for decades. On November 27, 1775, while home with their children in Quincy, Massachusetts, she wrote to John in Philadelphia, where he and his fellow Second Continental Congress delegates were debating which principles should underpin the fledgling U.S. government. Given their formidable challenge, Abigail offered these words of advice, maintaining that haste rarely fosters meaningful solutions.
In 2005, Joan Didion (1934-2021) published her memoir about the recent, sudden death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne. About two months before the book's publication, Didion also lost the couple's only child, daughter Quintana Roo. When she adapted her book on grief “The Year of Magical Thinking” — a National Book Award winner — into a one-woman Broadway show starring Vanessa Redgrave, she broadened its scope to consider the two great losses of her life. With these lines, Didion reflects that life’s most meaningful moments aren’t likely to feel grand or cinematic — profound events are still surrounded by normal context. Didion compels us to embrace each mundane-seeming moment, because we never know when things are going to change.
Alice Walker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer with more than 30 literary works under her belt, including her most famous novel, "The Color Purple." Her writing often explores the crossroads of race and gender — particularly centering the experiences of Black women. A former social worker and teacher, Walker also has a long history advocating for civil rights. “Activism is my rent for living on the planet,” she has said. Her commitment to equal rights and representation encourages us to stand up for our own beliefs and values and to never let society or other people diminish our sense of self-worth.
One of the most famous writers of the early 20th century, Virginia Woolf is known for her fluid and experimental style across forms, from novels and essays to biographies and letters. Woolf also championed feminism and pacifism at a time when neither was popular. Though she won few accolades during her lifetime, her groundbreaking work has cemented her legacy as a literary and social pioneer. Her words here remind us that we can make more of an impact than we realize by simply being ourselves, without pretense or expectation.
16 Quotes for When You’re Feeling Lonely
Some people like to be alone, but very few enjoy being lonely. The difference between the two states was aptly explained by the existentialist philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich, who said, “Our language… has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone.”
Many people seek out solitude, whether for a few hours or many days. Periods of solitude can help clear the mind or, conversely, focus it. Loneliness is a different state of mind. It is associated with sadness, and being cut off from others. People can feel just as lonely in a crowd as they can on their own. But loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s natural to feel lonely at times, and even people who seem to have friends and family all around them can feel alone. The key, perhaps, is to not let that feeling take control: Loneliness doesn’t have to last forever, and nor should it.
The following quotes from famous figures — including Charlotte Brontë, Bruce Lee, and Bill Murray — help present a different perspective on loneliness. So for anyone feeling lonely, read on, and realize that loneliness doesn’t have to last too long.
Loneliness is only an opportunity to cut adrift and find yourself.
Many people need desperately to receive this message: “I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”
I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.
Peril, loneliness, an uncertain future, are not oppressive evils, so long as the frame is healthy and the faculties are employed; so long, especially, as Liberty lends us her wings, and Hope guides us by her star.
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
When I get lonely these days, I think: So be lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience.
Loneliness is equal to the radius of one’s awareness.
I tell you loneliness is the thing to master. Courage and fear, love, death are only parts of it and can easily be ruled afterwards. If I make myself master of my own loneliness there will be peace or safety: and perhaps these are the same.
Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow.
Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.
When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.
Accept your own aloneness and stick to it, all your life. And then accept the times when the gap is filled in, when they come. But they’ve got to come. You can’t force them.
People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.
That little-discussed subject — loneliness. That is a great taboo, isn't it? No one really wants to admit they are lonely, and it is never really addressed very much between friends and family. But I have felt lonely many times in my life.
You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
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