How I Ended Up Here, Part 1 Side Note

I started writing about my journey a few days ago. I ended it at the point when I had just finished my graduate studies and had started down a path in my mid-twenties with a new M.B.A. in hand. In the narrative, I also shared a side note about one of my college mentors who had given me a bookmark with a quote on it.

Beyond stating that the quote still fits me, I didn’t give any explanation as to what the quote meant and continues to means to me. Hence, Part 1 Side Note.

Since she gave me that bookmark with this quote all those years ago, it has become one of my favorite lines from literature (although really, if you want to get technical, it’s a line from a poem that’s in a book). Many of you are probably familiar with the line if not the source.


What I didn’t share is what this quote has meant to me.

The beautiful thing about literature, or really, art in general, is that each person reading or experiencing the literature/art interprets it. And while interpretations may agree or overlap, each person’s interpretation is unique, based on that person’s journey, thoughts, life at that time. In that sense, there are no right or wrong interpretations, and it allows for interpretations to change and evolve over time as the person grows and moves along her path.

For me, I was given this quote during my senior year in college. The mentor who gave it to me was one of the people I spoke with in trying to plan my future post-college. At the time, she told me this quote fit me and she hoped it reminded me that it was okay to not know where I was headed.

As a college senior facing graduation, I felt a tremendous pressure to “decide on a path.” And so while I did hear what she said and liked the quote, I didn’t appreciate the deeper meaning until later.

Over the years, I have adopted this quote as a kind of motto, sometimes as a shield against societal expectations. It has also become a reminder. A reminder that I don’t always need to know exactly where I am. That I don’t have to know where I’m headed. That sometimes it’s important to just be on the journey and experience the now. And that’s why I wear the necklace, to infuse myself with that reminder. (See see my friend Alexis’s post for more on infusing your environment.)

Practically, I have used this quote to give myself permission to not need a 5-year or 10-year plan. That I don’t need to plot every point along the route, but instead, enjoy the journey. That I don’t have to have a destination in order to be successful. And that I define success for myself, and should not allow society or other people to define it for me.

I didn’t get to this point overnight. It took a while from being the college senior to now, and there were a few more steps in between that I haven’t yet shared. So stay tuned for Part 2 of How I Ended Up Here.

Do you have a motto or a quote that you use as a life reminder? If so, share it in the comments below!


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