The Inspiration Suck-Hole


Have you been on Instagram lately? Well, here’s a refresher course:

“Stop holding yourself back. If you aren’t happy, make a change.”

“Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic, beautiful parts of life, and the universe will keep giving them to you.”

“Be bold, do what the ordinary fear.”


I have a confession to make: I have a thing for inspiration porn. Not just an “oh hey, what a lovely quote” type of thing—no, definitely not a dalliance—but, rather, a fiendish desire to read quote after quote after quote until an hour has passed and I’m wondering how such positive sayings could lead me so astray. Despite all the noise these maxims make about productivity and chasing your dreams, I’m almost always left with nothing to show for my time. The result is that I feel even worse about myself and my life than I probably did initially, when I’m seeking out a little wisdom to jumpstart my day in the right direction.

I do this, mainly, because our Insta-spiration obsessed society has hammered into me that being intentional and present is important (surely that involves technology-induced deep-dives). However, this “be here now” redux often seems to be important solely for how it reflects on the surface, with those who sing its praises often having a tinge of “holier than thou” in their stance. But there’s still a little voice inside of me—a yogi, probably, who lives off raw food—that taunts me with their mantras, convincing me that perhaps they have found the secret to this whole life thing, and if I just look hard enough, I’ll find it too. Thus, I continue to suspend the reality that these quotes trend towards the cloying and the cliché, earnestly hoping that their repetition will pay off.

It’s a shame-filled process for me, one whose values (and vocabulary) seem to directly conflict with those of my English major leanings. What would Henry James think of me now? Or Joyce? Or Adorno? I can practically feel my bookshelves judging me when these joy-finding jerkoffs come to a close. And what, if anything, have I gleaned from them, other than a fleeting sense of having done something “good” for myself, without having really done much at all?

But, perhaps it’s best not to think about what could have been done with that time—after all, “regret does nothing but steal our joy.”

3 replies »

  1. I think the internet makes it sound so easy. Change can be hard, and it almost always takes time, you know?
    Reading quotes sometimes makes me feel like a fifth grader whose mom is nagging them about finishing their homework: “I’m working on it! It’s just not DONE yet!”

  2. I get this. I can get caught between inspirational positive pop and rage rock. “I’m going to change the world!” “I’m gonna burn this place down!” In the end, I still end up folding laundry.

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