January 24, 2013

In life, we all encounter a fair amount of inspirational quotes. They appear in little books that are displayed near the cash register in all kinds of establishments, on bumper stickers, and, in the age of social media, FUCKING EVERYWHERE. The quotes have good intentions: to tell us uplifting things that are in no way specific to any situation we might actually be dealing with. And that’s great! Who DOESN’T want to start the day with the knowledge that life is a mountain journey to the sun or what have you? Hey, you might say to yourself as you copy and paste one into your status update, it can’t hurt!
Or can it? I’m here today to raise the point that these quotes, so continuously touted as inspirational, can actually cause deep pain and suffering. Please review the following quotes and watch as they wreak havoc on the lives of innocent people.
Quote #1: “Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt and dance like no one is watching.”

Potentially fatal response: 
First of all, I need money really, really badly. And I work at a deli counter in the grocery store. If I did not need the money, I WOULD NOT WORK THERE. I would not work at all, because I’m so tired and getting up at 5 AM to haul ass to the store and start prepping the salads is a terrible way to live, and obviously I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t need the money. Secondly, my boyfriend broke up with me last week and I don’t think I’ll ever love again. “Like you’ve never been hurt”? Ohh you cocksucker. He broke up with me in the car on our way to a new year’s eve party! I had just told him I loved him! I’VE BEEN HURT.

As for the last point, I do dance like no one is watching but usually I’m wasted and actually last weekend I pulled a muscle in my neck, plus spent basically all my money buying rounds of shots, and made out with someone who I’m pretty sure was wearing snakeskin pants. Oh god, I need money so badly. I’m so lonely. I should never dance again. THIS IS TERRIBLE.
Quote #2: “Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.” 

Potentially fatal response: 
Oh, I’m sorry, this moment? You’d like me to make this moment perfect, just by sheer force of will? Let me tell you a little bit about this moment.

So I graduated from college two years ago, and now I live in my childhood bedroom in my parents’ house. I share the room with my aunt though, because all of her shit fell apart and she needed a place to stay, and we don’t have a guest room, so we just dragged another mattress in here. It’s great. I have an English degree but my GPA was honestly just like, DECENT, so I haven’t been able to find a real job and I work at Subway. My boyfriend and I are pretty in love probably, but he lives 45 minutes away at HIS parents’ place, so we just have sex in the car sometimes and like, Skype occasionally.
I am going out tonight though. My parents are taking me to Legal Seafoods for my 25th birthday. Was that the moment you wanted me to  take and make perfect?
Quote #3: “It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone – but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.”

Potentially fatal response: 
I was almost over my ex and then I saw this. This has done nothing – NOTHING – but make me want to kill myself.
Quote #4: “In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.”

Potentially fatal response: 
It matters SO MUCH how many breaths you took. For all kinds of reasons: if you take a lot of breaths then you’re alive longer, you’re not congested all the time, your health is generally good. You have to be breathing. YOU HAVE TO BE BREATHING. It just matters so. Much.

As for moments that take your breath away – honestly, that’s just not happening for me right now, but thank you for the reminder. Things are FINE, and like, I have this job that’s ok and my friends are usually not that annoying and I was seeing a guy for a while before we both got too busy and I didn’t hate him or anything, but my breath hasn’t been TAKEN AWAY that much recently. And I had been feeling really stable and on an even keel and good and healthy. But now I feel like shit.
Quote #5: “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.” 

Potentially fatal response:

So, you see? These “harmless” inspirational “quotes” can actually lead to some pretty serious stuff. I put “quotes” in quotes, also, because it’s not entirely clear if anyone actually ever SAID these things, and if someone did say them, who that person was. If there were only a culprit – but it looks like we’ll never know! Instead, we charge into a future in which inspirational quotes will only become more prolific, and depression more widespread. It’s a beautiful life!
I’ll leave you with one more small piece of meaningless prose that I found somewhere on the internet. Good luck with everything:

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

Get livid about quotes on The Impersonals.

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