My mom and I were talking about Pinterest the other day, which if you are not familiar with the site a) it’s basically a digital idea picture board and b) congratulations! You’ve probably spent your time exponentially more valuable than the rest of us. I was scrolling through my “quotes board,” identifying days of pinning when it appeared that I felt all was good in the world (“Good people bring out the good in people!”) and days when clearly something went awry (“Don’t be a lil sh*t”).
The world inundates us with so many different pieces of advice. Quotes are plastered on everything from magnets to bracelets to people’s bodies in form of tattoos. (Real quick: I think the reason why more people are getting tattoos these days is because you don’t see scary tiger tattoos as often as meaningful words, and moms and dads can’t really get mad at their kid for permanently inking John 3:16 on their wrist.) Brilliant people are constantly giving amazing speeches and writing poetry and songs that make us nod and say, “Yes. Screw it all, this is my MANTRA.”
We love to identify with certain quotes and words, thinking that somehow we uniquely align with a certain set of words. But it gets confusing because in a world of Beyoncé and Mr. Rodgers and Vince Lombardi, how the heck do we decide whose advice belongs in our personal bibles?! When both Abraham Lincoln and Tina Fey have proclaimed equally head-nodding and sometimes contradictory things, how do you know who to listen to?
I have a good sense of self, but when I was scrolling through my Pinterest board of quotes I couldn’t help but think, what do I really believe? Like, “Take a little coffee break” or “You’ll find me in the forest?” Quotes telling me to “Be soft” but at the same time I’m supposed to “Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.”
Henry David Thoreau is telling us to “Go confidently in the direction of our dreams,” while God is saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” So do I go or be still? God or Thoreau? (I know that’s quite a literal lens but for humor’s sake just entertain the juxtaposition.)
In order to stop my head from spinning I came to the conclusion that we are all different individuals who operate uniquely. I would hope that a police officer would live by different ideas and words than a surf instructor. I’m sure a yoga instructor would take softer quotes to heart than a professional BMX rider.
I guess they’re just little reminders anyway. We can take ‘em or leave ‘em.
But I must say I’d be perfectly fine if I never saw another “Keep Calm and _________” or Marilyn Monroe quote brandished on anything ever again.