cw: mention of depression.
It sounds corny, but I love quotes. Hearing someone beautifully and concisely sum up what you are feeling can make you feel so seen. I have a few favorite quotes that I keep coming back to over the years. They work as mantras when I need to readjust my mindset. I’ll write them in notebooks, repeat them out loud to myself, and embed them in my art.
They also serve as mile markers for my emotional state. I can go back through old journals and see how I was feeling on a given day based on what quote I was repeating to myself. I want to share with you the 5 quotes you would see most frequently if you opened my notebook right now. They’re short and sweet, and easy to call on whenever you need to ground yourself.
1. “You cannot punish yourself into someone you can love”
I think I originally saw this one on Pinterest, so I’m not sure of the exact source, but this is the quote that I come back to most frequently. When I make a mistake or struggle with something, I have a habit of mentally talking down to myself. I think that if I punish myself enough, I won’t make the mistake again. Obviously, that’s flawed logic. I’m only human and I cannot stop myself from making mistakes. Instead of trying to punish myself into perfection, I am learning to love what I am, imperfections and all.
2. “It feels good to feel good”
This one is less of a quote and more of a mantra I wrote for myself. It sounds obvious, but it’s actually something I have to remind myself quite frequently. I have a melancholic streak in me. Sometimes I can feel the sadness overtake me and it’s comfortable—like when you’re really tired but trying to stay awake. You know you have to keep your eyes open, but closing them and succumbing to sleep feels so lovely and easy. I notice a similar feeling when depression starts creeping in. I have to remind myself that feeling happy and being positive feels good too. It’s more work, but it’s worth it.
3. “I can do hard things”
This one is for the procrastinator in me. A lot of us tend to put off the hard or overwhelming tasks because we don’t want to fail. I often come back to this quote to remind myself that even though something is difficult, it doesn’t meant that I can’t get through it.
This is a good one for right now. Quarantine can feel endless, we’re unsure of our futures and what’s to come when this is over. Let’s remind ourselves that we can do hard things and we will get through this even though it will be difficult.
4. “I contain multitudes”
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s a personal favorite. It’s part of a longer line from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself,” in which he writes, “Do I contradict myself?/ Very well then I contradict myself,/ (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” These are words that I’ve written in just about every journal I’ve had since I read the poem in high school English class.
We sometimes get caught up in how we appear to others, and we don’t want to contradict ourselves for fear of seeming two-faced or inauthentic. We’re wrapped up in trying to create continuity in our personalities, but that’s not how the ‘self’ works. We all contain contradictions and are growing, changing beings. You are under no obligation to be the same person from one moment to the next.
5. “Your life’s purpose is not to be palatable to others”
This one came from the queen @whatswrongwithmollymargaret on Instagram. Following her has changed my life, so if you’re not following, you should be. This is something she originally posted as a little thought on an Instagram story and it has stuck with me. It’s such a good reminder whenever I get too worried about what people think of me.
Who you are is a gift to the world. Some people will love you and be so glad that that you are fully yourself. Others maybe won’t understand you or like you. That’s okay. Why deprive those you love you from seeing your 100% authentic self.
I’m sure that I could go back through my journals and find many more quotes that have spoken to me over the years, these are just the ones that I continue to call up when I need them most. I hope they help you a little bit too!
What quotes speak to you the most? Leave them in the comments!