The Problem With Inspirational Quotes.

When I am browsing (aka. procrastinating and generally wasting my life) on the internet, I frequently come across inspirational quotes on various social media platforms.

I’m sure lots of people find these quotes empowering.

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However, I tend to find them a bit overwhelming.

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Although I think that self-belief is a positive thing in many ways, I sometimes find that relying on myself to be the sole engineer of my own success can cause me to put a lot of pressure on myself.

I sometimes feel underqualified to deal with the task of leading my own life as if whoever is responsible for bestowing the gift of life forgot to include the instruction manual when they gave one to me.

I often try to be more proactive and make plans in an attempt to map out my future in a structured way.

Making plans makes me feel momentarily powerful as if I am the sort of person who can effectively navigate life and exert control over the things that happen to me.

However, what normally happens is that I end up sitting with the plan in front of me with absolutely no idea how to implement it – which is a bit like trying to use a map with faulty navigation equipment.

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I tend to make most of my life plans in January.

Like most people, every January, I decide that I am immediately going to reconstruct myself as a new healthier, happier, more productive human being.

For a brief period of time, I genuinely believe that I possess the ability to do this.

However, it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case.

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It turns out that making a change in your life requires more than temporary resolve.

It involves taking your initial motivation and transforming it into habit – it is a commitment to continue performing behaviours that may initially feel unnatural and are sometimes the complete opposite of those that you have exhibited your entire life until they become integrated into your daily routine.

It is easy to make a strong statement on January 1st, experience a setback a few weeks later and immediately assume that your entire self-improvement endeavour is doomed.

So this year, I am resolving to not to put too much pressure on myself, accept that setbacks are part of the process and to remember all that I can really do is try my best to navigate life whilst attempting to be the most functional, together version of myself that I can be.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I Am a Very Small Fish in a Big, Massive, Confusing Ocean.

When I was in school, I used to feel quite important.

My social circle was quite small and I was confident that I was going to achieve all of my goals and everything was going to go swimmingly.

I was essentially was a big fish in a small pond.

However, as I have moved up through the educational system, I have gradually come to realise that this is not the case.

It turns out that I am a teeny tiny fish in a significantly larger body of water.

img_0016If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

3 Books That I Loved As A Child But Now Find Logically Problematic As An Adult.

One of the great appeals of reading fiction is the idea of escapism.

Books provide us with the opportunity to transcend our everyday lives.

As a child, I had a very intense and vivid imagination.

When reading a book, I would often become so immersed in the story that I would begin to confuse the fictional world with reality.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

When reading, I would enter into a self-enclosed sphere of imagination in which my immediate surroundings momentarily ceased to exist.

The material world no longer featured as part of my own personal reality and, as a result, the things that my body required in order to function properly became completely irrelevant.

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reading, books, joanne sarginson

reading, books, joanne sarginson

However, as I have grown older, my ability to become completely absorbed in a fictional novel has been somewhat compromised.

I come from a scientific family – my granddad was an engineer, my parents are doctors, one of my brothers is studying marine biology at university and the other one received a prize in Year 2 for ‘The Best Model of a Volcano’.

Therefore, although I like to consider myself a creative and imaginative person, there is a part of my brain that is inclined towards thinking in an analytical and logical manner.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

As I have progressed out of childhood and through the teenage phase, I have noticed the logical side of my brain begin to exert increasing levels of dominance over the imaginative side.

I have seen this transition manifest itself most noticeably in the way that I now perceive the books that I used to find so captivating as a child.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar tells the story of (SPOILER ALERT) a caterpillar that is very hungry.

At the end of the book, the caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly.

Before completing this transition, he eats his way through increasing quantities of brightly coloured food items.

By the story’s climax, the caterpillar has consumed over 20 items of food, including an ice cream cone, a cupcake and a slice of Swiss cheese.

This was fascinating to me as a child.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

However, as I have grown older and my knowledge of the anatomy of insects has developed, it has become harder for me to get invested in narratives such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

2. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt details the story of a family who spontaneously decide to go out into the wilderness and search for a bear.

The structure of the book is similar to that of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Before locating a bear, the family is forced to traverse various obstacles in the landscape.

As child, I found the wide range of obstacles that the family encountered so completely captivating that I failed to think about the fact that they were actively looking for a bear.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

As I have grown up, I have spent some time watching David Attenborough documentaries and other educational films such as The Revenant.

I have therefore acquired a greater awareness of the physical threat that bears can present to humans.

As a result, I have developed a few issues with the basic principle of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

reading, books, joanne sarginson

3. Harry Potter

Quidditch was always my favourite part of Harry Potter.

Whilst I found all of Harry’s magical adventures fascinating, I was particularly enthralled by the concept of Quidditch.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

However, I recently dipped my head back into The Philosopher’s Stone and, whilst reading, I became slightly alarmed at the rate at which Harry Potter learns to fly a broomstick.

Within the space of a one hour Broom Skills lesson, he progresses from barely knowing how to hold the broomstick to driving it at high velocity.

I am aware that Harry is special and Hogwarts is magical but this accelerated rate of learning still seems quite dangerous to me.

I also found myself slightly concerned with Madame Hooch’s conduct within Harry’s first flying lesson, particularly the point at which she leaves a group of 11-year-old children unsupervised with a load of flying equipment that is capable of reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph in order to take Neville Longbottom to the hospital wing.

It occurred to me that Hogwarts should probably run an INSET day before the start of term in order to properly educate its staff in Health and Safety procedures.

Then again, the fact that there was a massive three-headed dog, a massive poisonous snake and a massive ‘whomping’ tree on the premises at various points during Harry’s time at the Hogwarts suggests that Health and Safety potentially wasn’t a prioritised matter on the agenda at any of the school’s board of governors meetings.

If I were a teacher at Hogwarts, I imagine that my flying lessons would be a little less exhilarating than Madame Hooch’s.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

In fact, I’m pretty sure that I would be Hogwarts’ most hated teacher.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

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Although I am no longer able to use fictional books as a form of complete and utter escapism, I often use them to inform my real life.

It is comforting to know that, no matter how crazy or fantastical a book is, the struggles of its characters are always partially drawn from the author’s real life experiences.

If I am going through something difficult, sympathising with a character can make me feel less alone.

Or alternatively, if I am facing a difficult decision, observing how characters deal with their issues can sometimes give me an idea of how to move forward.

Books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and Harry Potter, for example, have provided me with some valuable advice on how to deal with my current quarter life identity crisis.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

The Main Thing I Learned From My Time As A Teenager Is That It Is Quite Hard Being A Teenager.

Writing was very important to me when I was a teenager.

During this period, my main creative niche was moody, self-obsessed fiction.

However, I would occasionally stray into other formats.

At one point, for example, I wrote a letter to JK Rowling explaining why I possessed the perfect personal attributes to be her assistant but I think it must have gotten lost in the post because I never received a reply.

I also wrote in a diary on a regular basis.

I was reading through one of my diaries the other day when I came across a series of entries which I feel prove that, even at the tender age of 14, I was in possession of the emotional maturity and sensitivity that all good writers need to create complex and compelling characters.

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A mere day after meeting Luke, it became obvious I was contemplating taking the relationship to the next level:

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However, five days later, I discovered something that would change my perception of Luke forever:

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It was a devastating blow that altered my world view on a fundamental level:

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I think that I was experiencing emotional anguish because I felt very anguished and emotional.

I listened to Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’ quite a lot – and by ‘quite a lot’ I mean at a rate of around 30 times per day.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long before I learned to channel my angst into healthy outlets, such as physical activity:

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My teenage years were quite a disorientating time for me.

I was very confused and unsure of myself.

Every little thing that happened to me seemed incredibly dramatic and the world frequently felt like it was on the verge of ending.

Before I was a teenager, life was very simple.

My mind operated in a very logical and consistent manner.

If I had a problem, for instance, I would go to my parents for advice.

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Once I progressed into the teenage phase, I found that I was worrying about things great deal more than I had done as a child.

However, I also suddenly experienced an intense desire to keep my issues to myself.

As a result, I existed in a near-constant state of contradiction.

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I no longer actively sought out my parents’ advice.

In fact, more often than not, I found myself vehemently disagreeing with them.

This was completely irrational.

I was fully aware of the fact that my parents possessed over 30 years more life experience than me but this failed to prevent me from operating under the assumption that everything they suggested was automatically and intrinsically wrong and not applicable to me in any aspect.

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(N.B. – I am a little bit unsure as to what my dad is doing in this picture. I initially intended to draw him sitting there, looking a little bit concerned about my understanding of the calorific content of chicken in relation to that of dessert but then I drew his eyes wrong and, instead of looking at me, he appears to be staring dubiously at the unappetising piece of broccoli on the end of his fork. I also experienced a few issues whilst drawing his fork hand. I originally wanted to provide him with the nice sturdy grip that most people use when handling items of cutlery but, due to my lack of artistic talent, this was not possible. Unfortunately, his hand is instead slightly mangled and strongly resembles the fork itself… sorry Dad.)

When I was a teenager, I felt like I was the only person who had ever experienced what it was like to be a teenager.

I suspect that this was one of the reasons why I had difficulty apprehending my parents’ advice.

I was unable visualise them as teenagers and therefore found it hard to believe that they could understand what I was going through.

I think I just presumed that they had skipped puberty altogether – as if, by some weird flux in in the space time continuum, they had spontaneously progressed directly from childhood to adulthood.

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