Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark | Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Dear Younger Self:

This summer's Wellesley Magazine had me weeping at the kitchen table at seven AM.

Dear readers, even if W has nothing to do with you, kindly skim the pearls of wisdom below, and then tell me this morning's tears weren't caused by hormones alone.

Excerpted from Dear Me: Letters to My Younger Self, the four following excerpts are part of a brilliant, thoughtful compilation of letters distinguished alumnae wrote to their graduating selves.


As you commence into the world, let me whisper in your ear that the most satisfying accomplishments in your life will be decades in the making. Balancing patience and impatience takes practice; don’t quit before you’ve properly begun. You will come to appreciate the slow build of change, the delayed gratification of getting things right, and the small payoffs in between. Nothing worth much will reveal itself quickly; the end result is never the end.

 - Ophelia Dahl


I don’t think there is any way to prepare for tragedy, and my only advice about what to do if it strikes is to take care of yourself. Do what you can to survive, for yourself and for your children. But one piece of advice I would give to any young woman starting out: Prepare for your future with the knowledge that tragedy can strike anyone. In my case, it was violence, but it can be in the form of accidents, illnesses, even divorce. And if it does, always be in a position where you can provide for yourself and your family. If you can’t, you will face a tragedy within the tragedy.

 - Carole Beebe Tarantelli


Make it your job and priority, all the days of your life, to help those black people who have not had your opportunities or experiences. Every morning, look in the mirror and say, “I refuse to accept the expectations of the entitled.”

 - Shirley Taylor Haizlip


I ended up choosing a marriage partner because he was smart, witty, and good company. Never before had I dated a man who suggested that we go hear Eleanor Roosevelt speak at Harvard or see Racine’s Phèdre performed in the original French. But I wasn’t in love. My brain told me that one does not spend one’s married life in bed. So when he declared his passion for me, I made the mistake of listening to my brain and not my heart. When I walked down that aisle my legs were brave, but my heart was wobbly. That marriage was a big mistake. Three children and five grandchildren later, I realized happiness often comes disguised as disaster.

 - Maude Haleztine Chaplin


Brava, W Magazine, brava.

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