Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

A career change inspired “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” Elle Luna’s manifesto for passionate living. Part pep talk, part illustrated guide, the book is all heart. It offers a remedy for discontent and unachieved potential to people who feel their talents are being stifled by others’ expectations.

I’ve read unapologetic calls to “just do you” many times before, but Luna’s use of drawings presents the idea in a fresh and memorable way. She offers no tedious footnotes, lengthy citations, or voluminous appendices to support her claims, only the wisdom of her journey from corporate designer to independent artist. This feels sufficient.

Not convinced? Here’s a glimpse of her call to authentic living in eight great quotes:

Should is how other people want us to live our lives…Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic sel[ves]. It’s that which calls to us most deeply.”

“Our prison is constructed from a lifetime of Shoulds, the world of choices we’ve unwittingly agreed to, the walls that alienate us from our truest, most authentic selves. Should is the doorkeeper to Must. And just as you create your prison, you can set yourself free.”

“All too often, we feel that we are not living the fullness of our lives because we are not expressing the fullness of our gifts.”

“It is constant effort and hard work—and inexplicably life-affirming—to honor who you are, what you believe, and why you are here.”

“It turns out that the more intimate we are with what we want, the more self-aware we will be about how we spend our time.”

“To choose Must is the greatest thing you can do with your life because this congruent, rooted way of living shines through everything that you do.”

“When you follow Must every day, you impact not only what you create for your work, but also who you become in your life. This is how your work and your life become one and the same. When you choose Must, what you create is yourself.”

“How long will you wait to honor who you are?”

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