While most know Cheryl Strayed from her popular novel turned movie featuring Reese Witherspoon, Wild, few know of Strayed’s advice column “Dear Sugar” featured on The Rumpus. She began writing the column in March 2010, when the column’s originator Steve Almond asked her to take over for him. She wrote the column anonymously until February 14, 2012, when she revealed her identity as “Sugar” at a “Coming Out Party” hosted by The Rumpus at the Verdi Club in San Francisco. It’s a large selection of these columns that became the bestselling book Tiny Beautiful Things.

According to Vulture’s Rachel Syme, “Strayed had already written and published a novel called Torch, but she chose not to reveal her name for the Sugar project, and it was behind this veil of anonymity that she began to do some of the most surprising, raw, and heartbreaking writing on the internet. Sugar became a phenomenon, and soon she had an army of “sweet peas” clamoring to know her identity.”

When her mother died suddenly of lung cancer at the age of 45, Strayed described this loss as her “genesis story”. It was the beginning and the end of everything. From there she rebuilt herself and took all the mistakes, pains and heartache of her own life and packaged them into soulful pieces of advice for young women. Please, make the most of these…

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

“Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.”

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”

“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.”

“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt with. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding and my dear one, you and I have been granted a mighty generous one.”

“Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.”

“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue.

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what your plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history of economics or science or the arts.”

Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things befall you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.”

“You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.”

“What’s important is that you make the leap. Jump high and hard with intention and heart. Pay no mind to the vision that the commission made up. It’s up to you to make your life. Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that.”

“Accept that this experience taught you something you didn’t want to know. Accept that sorrow and strife are part of even a joyful life. Accept that it’s going to take a long time for you to get that monster out of your chest. Accept that someday what pains you now will surely pain you less.”

Lauren Martin
Just another girl in the world...and founder of Words of Women

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