Five Inspirational Quotes That Are Not At All Inspirational

It’s pretty safe to say that any quote someone would suggest to me as being ‘inspirational,’ ‘motivational,’ or ‘uplifting’ would warrant an eye roll, but here are a few that absolutely make me cringe when they appear in my newsfeed as a Facebook status. My sincere apologies if you have one of these as a wall decal in your living room.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars.” I think this one only really works in outer space for someone who is actually shooting for the moon because I’ve tried to come up with some normal, earthly applications and I just can’t. ‘Shoot for the hottest guy. Even if you fail, you can still go home with someone uglier.’ ‘Shoot for your dream job. Even if you fail, you can still be a barista.’ ‘Shoot for a liberal arts college. Even if you fail, you can still go to a shitty state school.’ ‘Shoot for New York City. Even if you fail, you can still live in Jersey.’ I don’t know; it just doesn’t seem to pan out.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The changes I wish to see in the world? I wish people would not tell total strangers to ‘smile’ or ‘cheer up’ and I wish people wouldn’t make friendly hugs last longer than 5 seconds. Those are some changes I wish to see in the world, so I don’t do those things. But somehow people aren’t catching on. Haven’t they noticed that I don’t spread the love by saying ‘smile’ to someone who is sitting there with a pleasantly neutral expression on their face? Can’t they tell I’m trying to be the change I wish to see in the world when I engage in only a brief embrace with maybe a pat on the back? Why are strangers still telling me to smile? And what am I supposed to do when, after I take my arms down to indicate that I’m finished hugging, the other person continues the embrace? Do I stand my ground with my arms dangling limply at my sides and continue to be the change that I wish to see in the world while the other person violates my belief in brevity? Maybe I’m missing something.

Do one thing every day that scares you.” Does opening the shower curtain count? Does getting out of bed count? What about going outside? Gosh, I do TONS of things every day that scare me. Indeed, my life is pretty thrilling, but for those of you who require more than the act of making a phone call to get your heart racing, try this: Next time a wasp accidentally flies into your car, instead of trying to get it out, close all your windows, turn on some soft rock, and just enjoy your drive. Maybe take the long way to your destination. Now you can confront your fear of wasps and the wasp can confront its fear of soft rock. Do you feel uplifted? No? Why? Oh, is it because the things that scare you are scary for a reason and that is why you don’t do them?

“If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” A quintessential favorite of 14-year-olds who have just discovered marijuana and thus are beginning to question all authority. This one is kind of circular because if you stand for something, you had to fall for it first, right? Right. Let’s go back to when you were 12 or 13 and the only political agenda you had at the time was thinking it’s stupid that you can’t wear shorter shorts to school. And then one day your friend’s cool older brother played The Sex Pistols in the car on the way to the grocery store to pick up the necessary ingredients for root beer floats. ‘Anarchy, anarchy…’ The word echoed in your mind and as soon as you got home you Google’d it. And suddenly you were an anarchist and that was what you stood for. Maybe you saw this quote because it was someone’s signature on an online forum for anarchists and you made it your AIM away message, who knows, but you fell for something! You fell for anarchy. This quote makes not being an idiot seem like some noble cause. You don’t have to go through the trouble of ‘standing for something’ just to question what you’ve been told.

“Do… or do not. There is no try.” Really? I’m going back to bed. TC mark

photo: epsos.de

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  • http://twitter.com/simbelsim simbel

    “Do I stand my ground with my arms dangling limply at my sides and
    continue to be the change that I wish to see in the world while the
    other person violates my belief in brevity?”

    This. Awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/simbelsim simbel

    “Do I stand my ground with my arms dangling limply at my sides and
    continue to be the change that I wish to see in the world while the
    other person violates my belief in brevity?”

    This. Awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=201002708 Alyssa Johnston

    Shoot for the moon. Whether or not you fail you will still suffocate and boil in the oxygenless vacuum of space.

  • Anony

    love it!

  • Sophia

    Wow, I actually really hated this article.
    Cynics are so unpleasant.

    • Clowve

      You can’t handle the truth!

    • Random

      **gUrLz4LyFe!*

    • Guest

      it’s funny because you just expressed hate for something, yet you think you are not a cynic yourself? IDIOT!

      • Sophia

        There’s a difference between cynicism and disliking something. One is an obnoxiously jaded way of viewing the world, the other is having preferences. IDIOT!

      • Guest

        whatever dude. if you were that much of a non-cynic you would’nt have felt the need to express your preferences.

      • Niki

        I don’t think it takes an obnoxiously jaded way of viewing the world to say that quite a lot of these are not very inspirational quotes at all. 
        Besides, the world isn’t made up of idealists and cynics. Just because the author does not find these quotes inspirational does not mean that she’s a cynic.
        Having said that, though, I don’t totally agree with her. There are plenty of ways in which the “Shoot for the moon” thing can be adapted. But I do find it funny that the last “inspirational quote” totally contradicts the first one.

      • Niki

        I don’t think it takes an obnoxiously jaded way of viewing the world to say that quite a lot of these are not very inspirational quotes at all. 
        Besides, the world isn’t made up of idealists and cynics. Just because the author does not find these quotes inspirational does not mean that she’s a cynic.
        Having said that, though, I don’t totally agree with her. There are plenty of ways in which the “Shoot for the moon” thing can be adapted. But I do find it funny that the last “inspirational quote” totally contradicts the first one.

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        (I agree with your distinction, but I also actually agree with the article! laugh)

  • http://twitter.com/porcelainvalves lia annabel

    this is the most relevant article ever.

  • rose

    worst is when someone reaches university still stuck with what they fell for when they were thirteen. especially when they make it define them as a person. 
    actually, the worst is when its those people giving you really long hugs.

  • Guest

    my coach always used to say: 99.9% right is a 100% wrong…well techincally it is only .1% wrong but same difference right? this article is SO spot on.

  • CC

    Loved it. Laughed so hard with the wasp idea.

  • Lu

    I hate the moon one too! But for a different reason. The stars are so much farther away than the moon! So to me it reads more like “lose those 10 pounds to get into that size 12 dress! Even if you don’t, you’ll end up with a body like Taylor Swift’s.” Totally nonsensical.

  • Megan

    “Do you feel uplifted? No? Why? Oh, is it because the things that scare you are scary for a reason and that is why you don’t do them?” Hilarious.

  • Zspliff

    OMG thank you, the shoot for the moon one makes me have mini strokes. Not even for the fact it doesn’t work for anything else … but it doesn’t work for itself. Was this written with no knowledge of astronomy? No you will not land in the stars, you’ll just land in space … best case scenario and that’s BEST you’ll land in mars and that just Fucking unpleasant. Come to think of it why would I shoot for the moon in the first place??? 

    • Guesty

      Yeah, fuck the moon!

  • Zspliff

    OMG thank you, the shoot for the moon one makes me have mini strokes. Not even for the fact it doesn’t work for anything else … but it doesn’t work for itself. Was this written with no knowledge of astronomy? No you will not land in the stars, you’ll just land in space … best case scenario and that’s BEST you’ll land in mars and that just Fucking unpleasant. Come to think of it why would I shoot for the moon in the first place??? 

  • http://twitter.com/ingenuegle Egle Makaraite

    “Now you can confront your fear of wasps and the wasp can confront its fear of soft rock.”

    I laughed out loud and then read this to my mom.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9383035 Scott Muska

    This is absolutely hilarious.

  • Sarah Anderson

    “Next time a wasp accidentally flies into your car, instead of trying to get it out, close all your windows, turn on some soft rock, and just enjoy your drive.”Hahahahahahha can’t stop laughing

  • http://rmimms.tumblr.com Renee

    I have a Facebook friend who is always posting some inspirational quote. I’m pretty sure that they have posted each of these at least once since I’ve been their ‘friend.’

  • Anonymous

    Ugh!  I’m usually so supportive of the articles this site releases, but this is simply misguided.  It is far too easy to find error in inspirational quotes that are meant to be, well, inspirational.  Pessimism is the act of a fool – a fool without hope.  I am truly sorry that you lost your hope along the way, but your article, while satirical in nature, falls horribly flat.  You can do better, I hope.

    • Guest

      BITCH! YOU TRIPPIN!

  • Angela

    I thought for sure “everything happens for a reason” would  make the list.  That is the worst!  I prescribe more to the thought that “Shit happens”.

    • Jordan

      My favorite MIND-BLOWING comeback to that is “everything does not happen for a reason,  everything happens.”

  • http://twitter.com/XXconfessaXX Suuuuuuuu

    This was hilarious. I do think some inspirational quotes are cringe-worthy. And no, I am not a cynic. I do have quotes I find quite motivational, just others that induce massive eye-rolls from me. That said, some of the ones listed here aren’t the worse I’ve seen. But funny article anyway! My favourite line being “Now you can confront your fear of wasps and the wasp can confront its fear of soft rock.”

  • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

    Great article!

  • Michael Lynch

    I read the title of this post and prepared to disagree on every quote but I was pleasantly surprised that I actually agree with you on all of them except the first.

    1. I understand this and I do believe it to be somewhat inspiring. What it’s getting at is that if you shoot for first place, you may come in second, which is better than coming in last if you had shot for mediocrity or had just not tried at all.

    2. You’re right when saying you can only be you so if you want to change something about the world at large, being just you isn’t of much help.

    3. I’m like you. Pretty much everything I do scares me. Here’s a quote I actually buy into: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” I live the ladder but I suppose the quote can apply to those living the former.4. There is just no logic in this at all. If you don’t stand for anything, that is in itself a stance.

    • C.

      You live the ladder? Are you still climbing up it to shoot for the moon?

    • http://twitter.com/asmitavadali Asmita Vadali

      The moon is closer to us than the stars, so even if we do aim for the moon and fail, we’ll be no where near the stars.

  • ying guo ren

    jeez, I can see why people are telling you to smile and want to give you longer hugs. clearly these quotes aren’t supposed to be taken quite literally. although some are fairly cheesy, they are certainly inspirational in the right context. 

    • Felstein 1

      Ying, clearly you missed the joke here……

  • http://twitter.com/RyaninAustralia Ryan Culliver

    “Do… or do not. There is no try.” Really? I’m going back to bed” I’m DYING laughing at work hahahaha the equivalent to “Nothing beats a failure but a try” What? A success beats a faliure! And if you know you’re going to fail before you begin, then I would suggest an alternative! An alternative beats a failure! Sooooooo many thing better than failure

  • catlover

    When are you available for dinner at a chain restaurant this weekend? I was thinking we could ironically enjoy half off apps at Chili’s, maybe Red Lobster. I hear they have fabulous mimosas. Are any of these places cat friendly? We should bring cats.

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