With nearly three centuries of collective experience in this thing called life, six authors reflect on the things they wish they’d focused on earlier in the game. Here are the questions these literary giants suggest asking yourself, starting right now.
“Am I doing the things in life that really make me happy, and am I doing the things in life that scare me?”
These are two related questions that Angela Flournoy (The Turner House) wishes she’d asked herself as early into adulthood as possible. “Those [questions] really live next to each other a lot of times,” she says.
“How can I manage to be alone?”
Lawrence Raab (Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts) acknowledges that there’s no common answer to this question ― the real significance lies in making sure to ask it. “It’s important to be able to be alone because we’re all, at some point in our lives, alone,” he says. “So how to be alone is also a way [of] how to activate your mind, how to activate your intelligence, how to cultivate your imagination.”
“Is it worth my time?”
This is a question that Faith Salie (Approval Junkie) says she learned from her husband. “Your time is invaluable, and you can’t get any more of it,” she says. “The most priceless things in life are time and love... There’s always more love, but time? It doesn’t come back.”
“Am I trying as hard as I can?”
Darin Strauss (Half a Life) says that the older he gets, the more he realizes life is about trying, more than anything else. “It’s just putting your ass out there,” he says.
“What will I be doing in six months?”
For Sloane Crosley (The Clasp), thinking about the more immediate future is a helpful exercise. “There’s so much pressure to make giant decisions,” she says. “It can be incredibly intimidating, because I feel like it’s all presented on this five-year spectrum, which is really hard to imagine.”
“Am I the person who I’ve always wanted to become?”
It’s never too late to make a change. Rayya Elias (Harley Loco) takes this to heart. “That’s a really, really important question that I ask myself almost every day,” she says.