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01/31/2015 11:27 am ET Updated Mar 02, 2015

Patti Smith's Advice About What Really Matters In Life Will Give You Chills

If you're feeling down on your dreams today, Patti Smith has something to say about that.

In 2012, the punk rock icon spoke to a group of young people about what life is really about. Her speech may be a few years old, but her message is a timeless one:

I’ve done records where it seemed like no one listened to them. You write poetry book that maybe, you know, 50 people read. And you just keep doing your work because you have to, because it’s your calling ... What matters is to know what you want and pursue it. And understand that it’s gonna be hard. Because life is really difficult. You’re gonna lose people you love, you’re gonna suffer heartbreak, sometimes you’ll be sick, sometimes you’ll have a really bad toothache.

But on the other end, you’ll have the most beautiful experiences. Sometimes just the sky. Sometimes, you know, a piece of work that you do that feels so wonderful, or you find somebody to love, or your children. There’s beautiful things in life. So when you’re suffering … it’s part of the package.

I say, stay strong, try to have fun but stay clean, stay healthy, because you have a lot of challenges ahead, and be happy.

Although Smith is full of wise words these days, once upon a time she was a 20-year-old college dropout hoping to make it in the music scene. She had her struggles, but she was relentless.

"That wasn't much fun, but I had my mantra, 'I'm free, I'm free.' ... I wasn't worried, though," she wrote in her 2010 memoir Just Kids. "I just needed a break and I wasn't going to give up."

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BEFORE YOU GO

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Patti Smith At The Vic
CONVERSATIONS