As a human, you will experience highs and lows in life – success, failure, love, loss and much more. How do we cope with turbulent times? Well, let me be the one to say the answer is not inspirational memes.
You know the ones… That vast database of quotes that poorly attempt to encapsulate the vast complexities of human emotions and situations. Whether life is “a daring adventure or nothing at all,” or you find that “a winner is just a loser who tried one more time,” there are literally millions of these quotes and you’re sure to find one that connects with you.
And I should know – I was a member of this community, possessing a collection of these images that I believed helped me put life into perspective and enjoy my time here on Earth (a statistical average of 646,000 hours).
It was March 2014, and I’d just moved into a new flat in an old, converted cigar factory – I lucked out hard with a company who threw money at anybody with the words “social media” in their CV, which enabled me to afford such an extravagance.
Following this, my performance at work went down as company expectations exceeded the realm of possibility. And to keep me company, I turned to inspirational quotes with this one specifically shining.
On one hand, this did inspire me to carry on through times of hardship. But on the other, it bred complacency and a blindness to the fact that things just were not going well in my current job – pushing me to the brinks of my already flaking psyche and making anxiety a permanent, daily feature of life.
So what happened here? What is the problem? Well, it boils down to two issues:
1. We are all unique individuals, and should not take this bullshit as gospel.
2. We all have weaknesses and should be free to embrace these.
Let’s look at that first point. No matter how much you “connect,” with the words of an inspirational quote, breeding mindfulness into your life, it is still something written by someone at some point in their life that is 100% unique to them – not you.
Don’t live your life according to someone else’s words, because no two human beings fit a certain mould. You are wonderfully unique. Don’t tarnish that through emulation of someone else.
Secondly, I have some bad news for you. Human beings are weak and vulnerable – sorry to those who live their life according to Pinterest boards full of life advice emblazoned across minimalist backgrounds in Helvetica for the reality check, but it’s true.
That vulnerability is scary enough as it is, especially terrifying to embrace said weakness that is 100% unique to each and every one of us. But things get worse with supposed blanket statements on how you should live your life.
I mean take a look at the one below.
Always trying to not be mediocre is a terrifying prospect, because (reality check) a good portion of any human life will be considered as such. My days of going to work, going home, eating dinner and looking at dogs on Instagram are certainly up there in the peaks of mediocrity, and no doubt your standard days are too.
But here’s the beautiful truth – that is okay. It’s perfectly fine to want to spend a day in bed binge watching Netflix, or to successfully eat that lasagne meant for four people. You don’t have to seize every day, find a sunrise, dance like nobody’s watching and hit those #foodgoals every day. To leave things ambiguously negative by saying this is not good enough is a scary prospect and you should be ashamed of yourselves, soulpowered.com.
How terrible would it be, to actually be genuine?
Would it really be so awful to be authentic and transparent about the struggles and triumphs we have, rather than just throwing out a nonsense quote about being a better you?
The forced positivity of these quotes encourage the unhealthy behaviour of just ignoring yourself – your own emotions and vulnerabilities in favour of tackling every challenge before you without a shred of humanity.
And I won’t disagree if you say being vulnerable is damn hard. But a life of authenticity, integrity and openness was never going to be easy. It’s just something you have to figure out yourself, rather than looking to these words of stupid wisdom for help.
If you want some words, take those from a tweet I posted after escaping a time of depression.
Do not feel the anxiety of over-ambition. Remain humble and take steps to achieve your goals.
You are better than you think you are.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.