I ask all of my GunnerGirls to tell me what their motto/mantra is. I usually get a good variation on “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or “be the change you want to see in the world.” They’re clichés for a reason. But when I think about what random selection of words I try to model my life/actions/behavior after—I cannot choose just one. (Hence this blog post.) This will not just be a collection of my favorite quotes by my favorite people—but the quotes, quips, and proverbs that I legitimately try my hardest, everyday, to live by. Feel free to introduce me to some new ones.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S. Lewis
While there is much speculation on whether or not my favorite author of all time, Clive Staples Lewis, actually said/wrote this or stole it from someone else, the sentiment rings true. And while it may seem like a simple concept to you (I am a soul. I am not just the bones that support this skin.) I invite you to dig deeper. As a young black woman, I find myself getting caught up in the definitions this body I have been placed in affords me. I carry so much pride in being a woman. I carry so much pride in being an African American. I carry so much pride in the accomplishments the past 24 years have afforded me. This quote challenges that. Perhaps the only pride I should carry is in the soul that makes up the young black woman. In essence, I have a young, black, female body. I am Kelsea. You can take one away from me but never the other. So which should I really spend the most time thinking/caring about?
“It is the make of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
Seguing from body talk—I invite you to climb back into my skin. Looking the way I do, it is often presumed that I believe certain things that I may not necessarily believe in. For instance: because I am black, many people assume I have Democratic or Liberal political affiliations. Because I am a woman, many people assume my goals in life are marriage and children. And because I grew up Christian, many people assume I am conservative, judgmental, evangelical, etc. There was a great portion of my life where I tossed out any idea that someone automatically pinned on me, simply because they pinned it. If you thought something of me, all I wanted to do is rebel from it. All I wanted to be was the opposite of what you expected. However—after living a little—I’ve realized that I don’t have to shut out an idea because I’m angry that you assumed I believed it. Also, I don’t have to accept an idea because it’s the opposite of what you think. I don’t even have to believe what my parents believe, what my religion dictates, what politicians tell me, etc. Further—it would do me a world of good better to entertain (chew on, mull over, listen to, make no judgments on) any idea that I encounter. It may simply be human nature (or Kelsea-nature) to want to argue or debate controversial topics. To choose an unpopular stance on any topics for the sake of proving a point. But I have learned the most about what I truly believe; the ideas that I am firmly passionate about; through conversations where I was slow to speak and quick to listen.
“Change must be actively pursued, not merely tolerated. If you can thrive under conditions of rapid change, you can do anything.” – M. Reeves
I may just like the idea that I can do anything, to be honest. I have always subscribed to the thought that invincibility is tangible. At least for me. If I stare at it in the face long enough. If I poke at it hard enough. This quote places it in front of my face. I actually wrote a whole blog post about this one. I’ve found it most true in my professional career. The times I’ve been most successful are when I was resilient and flexible to change that others crumbled under. Change is uncomfortable. It’s sticky and gross and ugly and it sucks ass. But if you get through the suck-ass-y-ness, what else is there to get over? This quote is in my head on a super-daily-basis.
“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” –Ephesians 4:1
If you spoke to Kelsea at Summer Church Camp when she was a cool 14 or 15, she would’ve told you that she’s getting this verse tattooed on her foot the second she turns 18. That didn’t happen—but I still cling to these words. I’ll tell you why: they’re convicting.
You can determine for yourself what “the calling” on your life is. For many in the Christian/Protestant-world, it’s exclusive with going to seminary and becoming a preacher or missionary. To me, my “calling” is the little spark of electricity that was sewn into my bones before I was born. That “extra.” That “it” factor. I have it. I know I do. I know you do, too. And this verse reminds me, often, that I am not living up to that extra special something I was given. That to live my life anything but to the fullest is a waste of that. To settle is waste of that. And how dare I waste electricity.
“I have found the ultimate paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” – Mother Teresa
So… I feel like everything in the world is telling me to be angry and to withhold love. Right? In almost every capacity. I am supposed to hate those who hate me. Who hate people who look like me. Who deny me rights. Who say hateful things. I am supposed to be angry. I’m not “me” if I’m not. There’s something wrong with me. Anger is such a reactionary, impulsive emotion that it feels natural and correct. Love challenges that.
Love often brings pain, however. Mostly because we are fallible humans who are destined to fuck shit up. That being said, I have found that loving through/past/in-spite-of the pain… loving unconditionally… TRULY… is the hardest and most rewarding thing in the world.
I’m not going to lie and tell you that I walk through my day showing everyone that I encounter unconditional, supersonic love. I don’t. I probably don’t show more than a couple of people THAT kind of love. Because somewhere in my mind, I’ve decided that those couple of people are worthy of that kind of energy from me. Which defeats the whole unconditional aspect, yah?
This quote is just a reminder of that, to me. That I am to love. Until it hurts. Past the hurt. Through the hurt. In spite of the hurt.
Hope that made a little bit of sense.
“Hope unswervingly. Love extravagantly.” 1 Corinthians 13 The Message
Oh man. The day my best friend, Lauren, and I found this (the only ‘true mantra’ listed here) we FLIPPED OUR SHIT. So much so that when we would text each other, we’d sign off by saying, “HU. LE.” I don’t know who translated this bit of the Bible into these particular English words, but man, oh man, were they speaking my language. To get the full weight of this one, I’m going to have to be mega cliché and whip out the Webster’s Dictionary definitions. We all know what “Hope” and “Love” are… but what about “unswervingly” and “extravagantly.”
I truly, honestly, more than any other quote listed here, try to live my life this way. Full of steady, unwavering hope. For everything. For humanity. For love. For my country. For this world. For my career and future and life. And to those souls that are waddling around in my world, I try to be extravagant with my love for you. Sorry if you haven’t felt it yet.
What quotes/quips/proverbs/mantra inspire you on the regular? Let me know!