John Green has a way with words, even when they’re not on the pages of his best-selling books.
Between building up his Nerdfighter community with his brother, Hank, and racking up more than 4.5 million Twitter followers, Green has found time to offer words of wisdom in interviews and vlogs, through Tumblr posts and Reddit “Ask Me Anything” sessions. In honor of his 38th birthday on August 24 (which the author is celebrating by matching donations to Water.org), we’ve gathered some of his most inspiring messages. From talking about dating to opening up about mental health, here are five times John Green offered some wonderful nuggets of wisdom.
1. When he had the perfect response to a fan whose boyfriend said she was too smart for him.
In a video from 2010, Green responded to fans after asking them on Twitter if they were dealing with any problems. “My boyfriend says I’m too smart for him, but I really like him. Should I start acting stupid?” a fan asked. After turning into “a giant squid of anger,” he gave the best answer.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Venn diagram of boys who don’t like smart girls and boys you don’t want to date is a circle.”
2. When he offered some kind words to a fan on Tumblr.
A 22-year-old fan with cerebral palsy who identifies as bisexual reached out to Green on Tumblr, asking “How are we to deal with prejudice that comes from within our own families?” Though Green began his humble reply by stating he didn’t know “how to give advice,” he offered an inspiring message.
I don’t know how to give advice but I just want to say that you are a human being, and you are important and cared for. Neither your disabilities nor your sexual orientation make you less human than any other person–you are complex and important and worthy of love. There are people–and I’m very sorry if such people are in your family–who seek to dehumanize the other. Maybe the are [sic] scared and maybe they are acting out systemic biases they inherited and maybe they don’t know how to include you in their overly narrow definition of personhood, but that is not about you. That is not your fault. You are not broken or wrong; the social order is.
3. When he gave advice for those figuring out what to do with their lives.
Study broadly and without fear. Learn a language if you can because that will make your life more interesting. Read a little bit every day. But most importantly try to surround yourself with people you like and make cool stuff with them. In the end, at least in my experience, what you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with.
4. When he opened up about his mental health.
During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, a fan asked Green if he had any advice for “people who suffer from depression and the like.” The author answered by talking about his own mental health before closing with some encouraging words.
There is hope. There is treatment. You are not alone, and while I know the struggle feels at times completely hopeless and futile, there is a far shore for the vast majority of people, and I wish you the best.
5. When he talked about what makes someone a “nerd” — and why it’s a good thing.
I love nerds! I am obsessed with nerds. I have a great affection for people who are intellectually engaged with the world, and who, who don’t treat everything superficially. And I think when people talk about nerdiness, what they’re really talking about is smart people who are trying to think hard about the world, and I don’t think that’s an insult, I think that’s a great thing.
And as a bonus, here’s one last quote from Green that might not count as wisdom, but still serves as some pretty solid advice.
Happy birthday, John!
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