5 Things You Can Learn From Charles Bukowski

George J. Ziogas

You don’t have to fit in, you can be a true alternative

Charles Bukowski was a poet and novelist who lived from 1920–1994. Very little is known about his early life, but he published his first book of poetry, “The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills” when he was 49 years old. The book catapulted him to fame and made him the toast of underground culture in America.

He was a chain-smoking alcoholic who wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings about the world. He wrote about being a misfit and how to cope with being in a world that you’re not meant for. With rejection piling up in the form of over 200 manuscripts he had sent out to publishers and 35 poems that were rejected from book publications, it’s safe to say that Bukowski knew what it felt like to be an outcast.

Here are five things you can learn from Charles Bukowski.

1. It’s OK To Be A Misfit

Bukowski wrote poetry and fiction based on his experiences with rejection and alcoholism, but he never let go of his passion. He wrote about how he had no talent or skill and how he was an outsider and a misfit. This is in stark contrast to the “self-help” books out there that tell you how to fit in.

Bukowski followed his heart by writing about subjects that were taboo in his time and were considered uncouth. In today’s world where not being original is the norm, Bukowski stands out as a true original who was able to make a living doing what he loved doing. His poetry and novels are still relevant today.

2. It’s OK To Not Have A Plan

In Bukowski’s autobiography, he writes about his days of writing and how he had a half-written book. He didn’t know where to start and for the first time in his life felt lost. He began to look for clippings or articles to help him with his ideas and began to write from any given subject that came to mind. He’d pick up a book out of the library, find inspiration from its content, write it down and send it off to publishers. The process became a habit and eventually, he wrote out of just curious if it were possible to make a living doing so. He never had a plan but followed his inner voice as always.

Many of us feel lost when starting out in life. The key is to follow your passion even if you don’t know where it’ll take you. A great way to do so is to keep a journal and sketch out ideas and concepts that are floating around in your head.

3. It’s OK To Be An Outsider

Bukowski was a chain-smoker who would often down two packs of cigarettes a night during his drinking binges. He was socially awkward and shunned by the establishment, but he had no regrets. He couldn’t fit into the mold that his society wanted him in, but he made the best of it by writing about the issues going on at home and abroad.

There are people who strive to fit into their society and try to ignore issues that you can’t evade in your life. There are also those who seem to revel in the fact that they don’t fit in. But the difference is that the latter category don’t care about fitting in, because it’s OK for them to be outside of society’s norms.

4. It’s OK To Speak Your Mind

Bukowski didn’t have any qualms about expressing his strong opinions regarding literature, government, celebrities and other things going on around him. He lived life as he saw it and didn’t care much about what people thought of him. At one point in his life, he even slept in a friend’s car and had to be taken out of town because of the stares he received from the public.

You don’t have to be a celebrity or a politician to say your piece about things that are out of place in society. If you have an opinion, you should voice it and stand by it without regrets. There’s no need for you to fit into society’s mold if speaking your mind isn’t an option for you.

5. Life Can Be Beautiful

Although Bukowski’s stories are sad and depressing, it’s hard to ignore the beauty of his works. It’s like a flower growing in the midst of a poisonous wasteland. His poems describe life as it is and the beauty of living it despite the horrors that lurk around every corner. He describes how he came close to death in dark streets, but still lived to tell the tale. His writings are raw and real, making him one of the most well-known American writers of the 20th century. The stories captured in his works can inspire you to live life to the fullest.

There are many people out there like Charles Bukowski, who follow their dreams at all costs. They don’t let life’s unfairness stop them from being who they want to be and doing what they want to do. It can be hard to live your passions while facing rejection, but it’s worth it in the end. Just because you don’t fit in, doesn’t mean that you should give up.

If you’re a misfit and an outcast, then you have a huge advantage over other people. They may think that they’re being cool, but it’s the people who stand out that attract attention. The next time you feel like giving up on something, just think about one of Bukowski’s famous quotes like this one:

“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” Charles Bukowski

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