I’ve been coming out of a deep depression. I’ve experienced depression spells over the years but have been able to adequately handle it and they have been manageable. But this one spell lasted for a year. During the hardest, most challenging, and most isolating year that we all experienced. This post isn’t about depression and how to best deal with it. Only qualified mental health professionals can do that. What I want to talk about are those inspirational quotes and memes that all content creators and influencers post to “inspire” their audience. Especially in the gym/fitness world. Every fitness influencer out there uses these memes and quotes on their platforms. You’ve seen them.
“No Pain No Gain”
“You are Stronger than you Think”
“You Choose the Life You Want”
Can I just call bullshit on this? Please?
I know this is inspiring to some people and I don’t want to disparage what works for them. But for me, especially during this last year, it felt like such bullshit. I don’t feel strong enough. I didn’t choose these experiences that sent me down a spiral. What I went through, there were days when surviving the day took a Herculean effort. And sure, I can see how that makes me strong and I have endured and I’m currently on the healing side of this episode. But glorifying that seems disingenuous to my experience. And during that episode, those memes probably hurt me more than inspired me. Can we just call it what it was? Fucking hard and messy. Surviving that can’t be summarized in a meme and inspiration can’t be found in a quote.
And frankly, when you are going through that pain and suffering, being called strong and resilient feels invalidating and condescending. I don’t want to be strong. Sometimes, I want to be weak. I don’t want to rise above, I want to easily walk through.
The ironic thing is I played into that inspiration mentality. Part of my online content for the studio use to include a “Motivation Monday”. Once a month I would look for inspiring quotes to post. But now, why? Inspiration happens in our studio. Not in a quote. My inspiration comes from real people, dealing with real stuff; being there for each other. Inspiration is seeing our community surround a beloved instructor who is ill to support her. Inspiration is watching a student who never gave up, take years of training to get a move that many students get in their first few classes, and the shear joy when it finally happens. Inspiration is watching someone dance that is obviously feeling the feels of their pain and the result is raw, beautiful, powerful, and emotional. So no, a meme or quote can’t motivate. It can only express a little more eloquently what you already know.