50 Cheryl Strayed Quotes That Will Help You Go From Lost to Found

Cheryl Strayed is a wonderful example of how anyone can be anything they want to be if they set their minds to it and believe in themselves.

Today, Cheryl Strayed is a novelist, essayist, and podcast host.

She has been featured on Oprah’s Book Club, had her memoir turned into a movie, and has a net worth of anywhere from $1-$5 million.

Who was she before she wrote Wild, though?

And how did that experience really shape who she would become?

Keep reading for Cheryl Strayed quotes from the books Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things.

At 26, Cheryl Strayed was living in the epitome of a crossroads.

Her mother had just passed away from lung cancer, and her marriage had ended in divorce.

Cheryl set off on a journey to find… something.

She was a novice hiker but decided that ‘the something’ she was looking for was out in the wild and she was going to seek it out.

Hence, she embarked on a solo, three-month, 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Cheryl was not equipped for the journey.

In fact, she had no radio or phone with her.

She also had no credit cards and brought little cash with her.

Enjoy these Cheryl Strayed quotes and sayings!

Don’t forget to also check out these James Joyce quotes from one of the finest novelists.

If you like this article, we suggest you explore our most popular quotes article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily encouragement. 

Read more related content on our inspirational quotes category page.

Best Cheryl Strayed quotes from Wild

1. “I’m a free spirit who never had the balls to be free.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Grow a pair! Dare to be free. It is scary to be unapologetically who you are. Do it anyway and live your best life.

You will also enjoy our article on into the wild quotes.

2. “The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: The universe is an adiaphorous entity. It is not good or bad, it is morally neutral. Therefore, you never know what is going to happen. You can only control how you react to the things that happen.

3. “There’s no way to know what makes one thing happen and not another. What leads to what? What destroys what? What causes what to flourish or die or take another course.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Don’t get caught up in catastrophizing and asking “what if.” Make the best decisions you can with the information you are able to gather. Listen to your instincts. Take the risk and if you make a mistake, then figure out what you can learn from it.

4. “I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: It is interesting to think about what you actually require to survive. It isn’t the big fancy house or the newest model car. The most important thing you need is you! You are stronger than you think you are and you can carry what you need to in order to make it.

5. “Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Our thoughts are powerful. What we tell ourselves matters, as it becomes what we believe. We take those thoughts and turn them into habits and behaviors. The law of attraction explains how you attract the energy you focus on. Pick something other than fear to pay attention to!

6. “I didn’t feel sad or happy. I didn’t feel proud or ashamed. I only felt that in spite of all the things I’d done wrong, in getting myself here, I’d done right.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Let yourself feel and believe this. Everything you have done wrong has gotten you where you are. However, despite all of that, you are here. Here in this moment, which is the only moment that matters. You can do something “right” at anytime along your journey.

7. “I was a terrible believer in things, but I was also a terrible nonbeliever in things. I was as searching as I was skeptical. I didn’t know where to put my faith, or if there was such a place, or even what the word faith meant, in all of its complexity. Everything seemed to be possibly potent and possibly fake.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Many of us walk around like this. Not knowing who we are, what we believe, or where the answers we seek are hiding. The good news is that you do not need all the answers right now. You just need to live life, be open to things, and learn as much as you can. The more self-aware you are the more the rest will all work itself out.

8. “I’d finally come to understand what it had been: a yearning for a way out, when actually what I had wanted to find was a way in.” ― Cheryl Strayed

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Everyday Application: The answers to the things that haunt us are usually not found “out there.” They are found when we search inward. Meditation is a great way to turn your thoughts inward. Check out this article to get started.

9. “It seemed to me the way it must feel to people who cut themselves on purpose. Not pretty, but clean. Not good, but void of regret. I was trying to heal. Trying to get the bad out of my system so I could be good again. To cure me of myself.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: If you are trying to heal wounds that seem to great for you to handle on your own, please seek help. Therapists and other mental health professionals will be able to help you gain the tools and knowledge you need. If you need help picking a therapist, check out this article.

10. “Uncertain as I was as I pushed forward, I felt right in my pushing, as if the effort itself meant something. That perhaps being amidst the undesecrated beauty of the wilderness meant I too could be undesecrated, regardless of the regrettable things I’d done to others or myself or the regrettable things that had been done to me. Of all the things I’d been skeptical about, I didn’t feel skeptical about this: the wilderness had a clarity that included me.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Keep going. Even when you are uncertain, when the terrain is rocky, and when the path is unknown. This woman was lost in the wilderness for 94 days. She hiked 1100 miles and didn’t give up. I am sure she wanted to many times. Yet, she kept going, and this wild journey reshaped her entire life. Sometimes, the thing you have been waiting for to change your life doesn’t go by the name of opportunity, success, or “your big break.” Sometimes, it is called pain, hardship, and despair.

Cheryl Strayed quotes from Brave Enough

11. “Hello, fear. Thank you for being here. You’re my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: That thing that you are most afraid of doing, is the thing you need to do the most. Ask yourself where the fear is coming from. Is it a fear of change, failure, or success? If it is a fear you feel in your head (and not the physical kind that indicates danger like the hair on your neck standing up) then go ahead and do what you need to do! Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone will have lasting implications on how you live your life.

12. “We don’t reach the mountaintop from the mountaintop. We start at the bottom and climb up. Blood is involved.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Your journey to the top of your “mountain” will likely not be easy. The view from the top of a mountain is something that not everyone will see, because not everyone is willing to go through the grueling task of hiking and climbing up there. The same is true for success. There is going to be blood, sweat, tears, and pain along the way.

13. “Believe in the integrity and value of the jagged path. We don’t always do the right thing on our way to rightness.” ― Cheryl Strayed

14. “Accept that sorrow and strife are part of even a joyful life.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Sorrow, pain, and struggle are part of life. They are inevitable facets of being vulnerable, human, and living in a world beyond our control. However, you can still have a joyful life. All of the difficult moments make the good moments even more powerful. Be grateful for everything you have and make the most out of every experience.

15. “Ask yourself: What is the best I can do? And then do that.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: This is such a simple piece of advice, and yet it is difficult to do. When you ask yourself what is the best you can do, you have to be honest and let go of excuses. Once you have decided what your best is, then you have the challenge of taking action and actually doing your best.

16. “The particularity of our problems can be made bearable only through the recognition of our universal humanity. We suffer uniquely, but we survive the same way.” ― Cheryl Strayed

17. “Be brave enough to break your own heart.” ― Cheryl Strayed

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18. “Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Sure, work and your career make up a significant part of your life. Your career might provide you with a sense of purpose and the money you need to live your life. However, your career is not the only thing that makes up a life. There are your relationships, your dreams, the things you want to experience, and the impact you make on others.

19. “The body knows. When your heart sinks. When you feel sick to your gut. When something blossoms in your chest. When your brain gloriously pops. That’s your body telling you the One True Thing. Listen to it.” ― Cheryl Strayed

20. “Bravery is acknowledging your fear and doing it, anyway.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed quotes from Tiny Beautiful Things

21. “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.” ― Cheryl Strayed

22. “Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” ― Cheryl Strayed

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

Everyday Application: The ideas we have about ourselves often stem from our beliefs and experiences as children. Those formative moments matter, but they do not always remain true as we grow. We can develop new belief in ourselves, recognize that we deserved more, and improve our skills. When we change so should the ideas we have about ourselves.

24. “You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.” ― Cheryl Strayed

25. “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.” ― Cheryl Strayed

26. “Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.” ― Cheryl Strayed

27. “If there’s one thing I believe more than I believe anything else, it’s that you can’t fake the core. The truth that lives there will eventually win out.” ― Cheryl Strayed

28. “Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Those moments that gut us teach us so much more about what we are truly capable of surviving. They open us up to new possibilities. Embrace them and let them shape you. Just like a Phoenix rises from the ashes, you can stitch yourself back together and become a stronger version of yourself.

29. “Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.” ― Cheryl Strayed

30. “But the reality is we often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be a selfish jackass first.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed quotes on love and forgiveness

31. “To love and be loved. That is the meaning of life.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: Humans spend their whole lives searching for meaning. To some it might mean helping others or being successful. Others think it is about leaving a legacy. To some it is as simple as experiencing and giving love. To love and be loved is certainly something to be grateful for in this life!

32. “You don’t need those people. By stepping aside, they’ve done you a favor. Because what you’ve got left after the fools have departed are the old souls and the true hearts. Those are the über cool sparkle rocket mind-blowers we’re after. Those are the people worthy of your love.” ― Cheryl Strayed

33. “There are so many things to be tortured about, sweet pea. So many torturous things in this life. Don’t let the man who doesn’t love you be one of them.” ― Cheryl Strayed

34. “I can’t say when you’ll get love or how you’ll find it or even promise that you will. I can only say you are worthy of it and that it’s never too much to ask for it and that it’s not crazy to fear you’ll never have it again, even though your fears are probably wrong.” ― Cheryl Strayed

35. “Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It’s the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It’s worthy of all the hullabaloo.” ― Cheryl Strayed

36. “You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.” ― Cheryl Strayed

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Everyday Application: Love yourself enough to know that if someone wanted to love you and treat you right, then they would. You can not force it, and it is not because you lack anything. You are worthy of love and you are good enough. Don’t let a love you have to force keep you from discovering that real love that is waiting for you.

37. “The whole deal about loving truly and for real and with all you’ve got has everything to do with letting those we love see what made us.” ― Cheryl Strayed

38. “Romantic love is not a competitive sport. Some of those women your boyfriend used to fuck have nicer asses than you. Some are smarter or funnier or fatter or more generous or more messed-up than you. That’s okay. That has no bearing on you whatsoever. You’re not up against those women. You’re running your own race. We don’t dig or not dig people based on a comparison chart of body measurements and intellectual achievements and personality quirks. We dig them because we do.” ― Cheryl Strayed

39. “The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that.” ― Cheryl Strayed

40. “We have to be whole people to find whole love, even if we have to make it up for a while.” ― Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed quotes about life

41. “It’s a long life, sweetheart, and time heals all wounds.” ― Cheryl Strayed

42. “Work hard. Do good. Be incredible!” ― Cheryl Strayed

Everyday Application: These might just be the secrets to life! Working hard will help you get to the next level. Doing good things and being a decent human being will bring you joy, relationships, and friendships. Pushing past your limits and doing incredible things will keep you challenged and engaged with life. So, work hard. Do good. Be incredible!

43. “Only boring people get bored.” ― Cheryl Strayed

44. “One of the scariest things in our lives is actually doing what we know we want to do.” ― Cheryl Strayed

45. “You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success.” ― Cheryl Strayed

46. “Be about ten times more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of. Your life will be a hundred times better for it.” ― Cheryl Strayed

47. “Don’t listen to those people who suggest you should be ‘over it’ by now. The people who squawk the loudest about such things have almost never had to get over anything. Or at least not anything that was genuinely, mind soul-crushingly life-altering.” ― Cheryl Strayed

48. “There is no why. You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding. And, dear one, you and I both were granted a mighty generous hand.” ― Cheryl Strayed

49. “We are all entitled to our opinions and religious beliefs, but we are not entitled to make shit up and then use the shit we made up to oppress other people.” ― Cheryl Strayed

50. “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the mother-fucking shit out of it.” ― Cheryl Strayed

What did you learn from these Cheryl Strayed quotes?

Deciding to even go on this trip took some guts, but surviving it was another matter.

She underwent both physical and emotional battles during her journey and came out the other side, different from how she’d started.

Then she spent two years writing her memoir from various places, including her kitchen table.

She lives with her husband, filmmaker Brian Lindstrom, in the house “that Wild built.”

They paid cash for it because Cheryl didn’t want to owe anyone anything.

Her books, podcasts, and essays are all a reminder that we can be and achieve so many things.

My favorite Cheryl Strayed quote is, “There is no why.

You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt.

You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.”

I have wished at many points when I was younger, that I had a different story or beginning.

I am sure that many of us have had points in our lives where the hand we have is ugly and it’s hard to imagine winning.

Play the hell out of it, anyway!

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