Oh, the Places You’ll Go!: Dr. Seuss for 20somethings

Today’s guest post is from Megan Atkinson aka “Madam Energy” — an energy efficiency consultant by day,  energy industry and career blogger after dark at the Energy Careerist. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of tenacity, innovation, and a great glass of wine. You can find her rocking Twitter at @EnergyCareerist.

I remember Green Eggs and Ham. I remember The Cat in the Hat. I even remember One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. But as an adult, I don’t recall ever having been read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss. Theodor Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, published 48 children’s books in his time so it’s no surprise that I am not familiar with them all. What does come as a surprise to me is that “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” is by far, the most stirring, familiar, and inspiring piece I’ve ever read by the man… it resonates so deeply within the core of my being you would think I had been reading and reciting the book since the age of four.

Picture of Oh the Places You'll Go!

In truth, I’d never read it until I was 23 years old but the day I got my hands on the grimy library check-out version, my life was changed forever. That day was the day I decided it was time to start moving mountains – fear and uncertainty be damned. It was the day I decided I was going make a ruckus in the energy industry.

Being a Groan Up can suck the life out of you.

Day by day, from the moment we’re born, life and the process of growing up manages to shove down our throats a whole host of crap: responsibility, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, ridiculous expectations for what the future should hold, and the worst, most horrifying thought of all: complacency with less than amazing circumstances. Life teaches us to wait… but Dr. Seuss teaches us that kind of life is a boring coward.

“The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for wind to fly a kite

or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake

or a pot to boil, or a Better Break

or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants

or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.

You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing!

With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!

Ready for anything under the sky!”

I found the bright place where a Boom Band is playing.

Deciding to stop residing in The Waiting Place was one of the biggest, most difficult decisions of my life. Along with other remarkable influences (like this and this), Dr. Seuss reminded me that The Waiting Place is no place for me, no place for any self-respecting Groan Up.

Now, as I enjoy the swift ride down the slide of an integral Groan Up decision to leave a company I love to pursue big endeavors and opportunities with a new firm (and a new city), I remember this book again book upon a congratulatory Facebook comment left by a dear friend of mine:

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)


Throughout the horrific battle between Good and Evil, childhood and adulthood, moving mountains and the waiting place, Dr. Seuss and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” remind us all that life is a big, juicy adventure and it’s ours for the taking. The book does not fail to bring light to the fact that success does not come without struggles or defeat, but it reinforces that the adventures is ours none the less.

Do you find yourself in The Waiting Place? Waiting for a better break or another chance? Unslump yourself now and get on to your mountain, kid.


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Like advice from a wiser, funnier, older brother Paul's been there, done that, and wants to save you some pain and some trouble.

– Seth Godin, New York Times bestseller and author of The Icarus Deception

  • http://Website Hana

    This is a GREAT book!!! I also wasn’t introduced to this book until my mid-late 20s. I used to read this book to my students (8th grade) at the end of the school year and they loved it! We’d talk about the Waiting Place and had some really good discussions.

    I find myself in the Waiting Place right now *sad face* but I’m opening myself up to the adventure of it all.

    Thanks for this reminder.

  • http://asktheyoungprofessional.wordpress.com Katie Robinson

    Someone gave me this book as a high school graduation present. I was so touched. I have kept the book through college and came with me to my new life after college in NY. I try to re-read the book at least once a year. It’s nice to go back to the basics from some simple and motivating words. Dr. Seuss was a genius!