Cassidy Williams

Software Engineer in Chicago

Cassidy's face

Memorize quotes


When I was young, my parents gave me a poster I put on my wall of a bunch of different inspirational quotes from various people. Every morning as I got dressed, I’d have the quotes up in my face, and slowly but surely I started memorizing them and internalizing them. There were inspirational ones like:

“Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great.”

  • Fernando Flores

And ones that are just good life advice, like:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

And though I don’t remember all of them at all times, the whole concept of “memorizing quotes” has been a genuinely useful practice for me that I highly, highly recommend to folks in general. Both for, you know, actual life advice and encouragement, but also to pull out of your butt at any given moment.

”Wow Cassidy, this post just took a turn,” you may say, but no no, hear me out: When someone hears you quote something legit and applicable to a situation, you suddenly come off as waaay smarter and more prepared for a conversation than you did before.

No way, give me an example.

One of the quotes that I memorized on my poster growing up was from Helen Keller:

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”

I have used this quote in every written exam I’ve ever taken since middle school. Testing into Honors English courses, the PSAT exam, social studies tests, the ACT exam, taking the AP English exam, college admissions essays, testing out of English in college, some job applications… every single one. It’s just generic enough that you can apply this quote to pretty much any situation. And on almost every exam on which I’ve gotten feedback, the examiner compliments me on how much I’ve prepared for that portion of the test.

But it is all a lie.

I do not prepare.

I memorize quotes.

Oh my word, Cassidy

I know. It’s like a little life hack, but it’s so dang helpful. When I’m mentoring someone or giving some kind of inspirational talk?

”Comparison is the death of joy.”

  • Mark Twain

When someone is deciding if they should take action on something?

”This is your world. Shape it, or someone else will.”

  • Gary Lew

When I’m feeling slightly spiteful because someone questioned my ability to do something?

”The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”

  • Walter Bagehot

When someone is saying I’m being too paranoid and over-preparing for something?

”Luck favors the prepared.”

  • Edna Mode, The Incredibles

Having even just a small handful of quotes in your back pocket makes you seem credible, prepared, or at least somewhat quick-witted. It’s a small thing that you can do that genuinely pays dividends over time.

”You should always listen to Cassidy.”

  • Cassidy

View posts by tag

#advice #events #technical #learning #musings #meta #personal #work