Oh, the Places You'll Go

Yesterday (March 2nd) was the birthday of Dr.Seuss; one of the most prolific children’s writers of all time. One of the reasons his sing-song tales have spanned generations is they often contain nuggets of wisdom that are applicable to teenagers, college students, and older adults alike.

His final book, Oh the Places You’ll Go, has had the most impact on my adult life. I received a copy as a gift for high school graduation, but it wasn't until I graduated college that I truly absorbed the wisdom. Here are 10 quotes from Oh the Places You’ll Go, and how these lines helped me find my niche.

“You have brains in your head, You have feet in your shoes,
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

For me, this line inspires that “I can do anything” feeling. It reminds me that where I go, whether it be good or bad, is always a result of my choices.

“Out there things can happen (and frequently do), 
to people as brainy and footsy as you. 
When things start to happen, don’t worry don’t stew,
Just go right along and you’ll start happening too”

This is the good doctor’s way of telling us $&@! happens, and if we roll with the punches when it does, then we’ll turn out just fine.

“You’ll come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re dark.
a place you can sprain both your elbow and chin,
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

This line is all about risk and reward. For someone like me, who graduated with an English degree, this line is especially powerful. So many career options passed through my mind, but I was paralyzed by indecision due to fearing the risks involved with each choice. This line helps me remember that every decision I’ll make will have some risk and some reward, and that the worse decision I could make is no decision at all.

“Simple it’s not I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.”

This line wraps up the section above in the poem by saying that deciding on whether a risk is worth the reward is HARD - especially when it comes to a big life decision like choosing a career.

“...everyone is just WAITING...no that’s not for you.
Someday you’ll escape all this waiting and staying
and find the great places where boom-bands are playing.”

For me, the “waiting place” is such a powerful metaphor for the inertia in our lives caused by the failure to take risks in our decision making. This line reminds me that I’ll never achieve my goals if I just hang around waiting for them to fall in my lap.

“I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win cause you’ll play against you.
All alone, whether you like it or not,
alone is something you’ll be quite a lot”

Loneliness. I think the fear of being alone is something that plagues millennials more than other generations. When we’re alone, our minds are free to think about ourselves. This is prime time for the inner critic to tell you all reasons why you can’t achieve your goals. I use this quote to remember that boxing my shadows is a fight I can’t win.

“on and on you will hike, and I know you’ll hike far,
you’ll face up to your problems, whatever they are.”

Nothing too deep here. I just love this couplet to repeat as a mantra when I’m feeling stressed.

“Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact.
because life is a great balancing act.”

Balance and moderation. These are the two keys to both happiness and success. The problem is these keys can be more elusive than professor Flitwick’s keys in The Sorcerer’s Stone. Balance isn’t something attainable, but rather a lifestyle we should all strive to adapt.

“And will you succeed? You will indeed!
(98 and 3/4ths percent guaranteed)”

I absolutely love the cleverness behind this couplet. Dr. Seuss tells us nothing in life is a 100 percent lock, but that following the advice he has laid out can give us excellent odds to succeed.

“Kid, you’ll move MOUNTAINS..so
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!”

No matter how old I get, this final stanza will always tug on my heartstrings. We all have that metaphorical mountain in our lives that blocks the path to our untapped potential.

In honor of the man who brought so many millennials into the wonderful world of reading, I challenge you to an exercise.

Take out a piece of paper and draw a mountain. Write all of your fears regarding your career path in that mountain. Now, ask yourself this: What’s one thing I can do today to start moving this mountain?

I’d love for you to share what you come up with me on Twitter! (@Bpucino)

Written by: Brett Pucino