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10 Pieces of Wisdom You Can Find in Popular Young Adult Novels



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We rarely find what we’re looking for in the places we expect to find them. Sometimes, when life gets us down, we look to our superiors for help. We barely notice that the guidance we are seeking may just be found in the most unexpected of places. The next time you go to your favorite bookstore, give the young adult section a chance. What you may have a hard time looking for in the business section, you just might find in a coming-of-age novel or in a science-fiction book about feuding interstellar families.

Here are a few golden nuggets of wisdom I have dug up from years and years of reading young adult books:

1. “I am what I am an’ I’m not ashamed. ‘Never be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say. There’s some who’ll hold it against you but they’re not worth botherin’ with.” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling

You don’t have to apologize for who you are. The world needs more of those who aren’t afraid to be true to themselves at all times. Yes, some people will look down on you for making choices they wouldn’t make themselves, but at the end of the day, it’s you who gets to make the choice about how to live your life.

2. “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

We tend to glorify the fast-paced life a little too much. We quickly go through the motions so that we can get more things done and achieve more goals. It’s easy to forget that, when we’re always rushing about, we get disconnected from the things that matter the most. It’s okay to want to achieve a lot of things. Just don’t forget to slow down and relax knowing you don’t have to be in a rush all the time.

3. “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” – To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

True courage isn’t about puffing your chest. It shows up when you’d rather hide inside your room and stay there till the storm passes, but you step out and do what you have to do anyway.

4. “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Got that?” – The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Ann Brashares

It’s easy to get hung up over a problem. You can spend all your energy looking for solutions, and if you don’t find the right solutions, you can waste away feeling bad for yourself. 

That in itself is the problem. You set yourself back simply by looking at things as problems to be solved. What if these things you call problems were opportunities? What if they were simply experiences of another sort? Or what if they were just moments in the past that are no longer here? Problems stop being problems when you are willing to look at them in a different way.

5. “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eyes to see it path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Dune, Frank Herbert

Fear isn’t something to conquer. Fear isn’t even something to fear. It’s simply something that you must allow yourself to feel so that you can move on from it. Or more accurately, so that fear can move on from you. 

The only reason fear keeps hanging onto you is because you keep refusing to look it in the eye. And for as long as you keep doing that, you keep being a slave to that fear even when there’s no reason to be scared.

6. “Coming back to where you started is not the same as never learning.” – A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett

Going back to square one can be one of the most heartbreaking things for someone with a goal. You give yourself fully into achieving your goal, only to realize you’ve been doing the entire thing wrong. You may need to start all over again, this time with much less enthusiasm than you had the first time. But this time you have a wealth of lessons learned from the mistakes you’ve made, and that’s something not even enthusiasm can compensate for.

7. “Nervous means you want to play. Scared means you don’t want to play.” – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

When it’s hard to make a decision, listen to your heart. It always knows what to do. You can endlessly weigh the pros and cons of a choice, but your heart instantly knows the right choice for you. You can tell what that choice is simply by observing your feelings. When you’re nervous but want to do it anyway, go for it. But when you’re totally dreading the idea of doing it, that’s when you know it’s not for you.

8. “You’ll never know where you’re going if you go about what-iffing like that.” – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

We can ask all the hypothetical questions we want, but at the end of the day, we don’t get anywhere being armchair philosophers. It’s okay to reflect on the things you want to happen in life. What’s not okay is if you’re just going to sit there and think about doing things instead of actually doing them.

9. “‘Atticus, he was real nice.’ ‘Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.’” – To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

It’s about time we drop the idea that humans are savage animals. Aren’t you sick and tired of being deemed nothing more than a bag of flesh and bones with a brain that’s just slightly bigger than most primates? Humans are so much more than that. We have valuable talents and gifts to share with the rest of the world. We simply have to look beyond what the physical eyes can see so we can find them.

10. “I think you gotta be who you want to be until you are whoever it is you’re trying to become. Sometimes half of doing something is pretending that you can.” – Dumplin’ Julie Murphy

It’s not really what you do that matters, it’s who you’re being. When you’re being the person you want to become, you no longer have to worry about what to do. You just end up doing it naturally. 

You might feel like an impostor at first, as though you’ve stolen someone else’s identity. But the more you get used to being that person, the more it becomes easy for you to do the things she does. Remember, you can be whoever you want to be. You only have to choose to be that person every day until you no longer have to choose.  

Out of the 10 quotes above, which one is your favorite and why? Share your thoughts with us below!

Nicole Arce is a multi-passionate blogger, freelance writer, and entrepreneur. She writes to encourage strong, ambitious, and driven human beings to access more of themselves so they can help make the world a better place. For more of her work, visit or check out Changemaker Blog on Facebook.

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