Meet @_nitch, home of the coolest inspirational quotes – for people who don’t do inspirational quotes.

Call us terrible cynics, but we suffer from a mild allergy to motivational or inspirational quotes – and we suspect we’re not alone. Too often they seem trite, easily trotted out as panaceas to often quite complex personal or societal issues. Yes, sure, some of us may be able to, for example, ‘dream it, wish it, do it’; equally, it may be true that ‘your only limitation is your imagination’. But for many, there are complicated, and sometimes thorny, reasons that these things may not be possible in the here and now. And seeing these calls to action, unbidden, emblazoned across social media can have the opposite effect of their, no doubt perkily good, intentions.


Genuinely inspirational extracts – those that are neither hackneyed nor corny – come from lived experience; and are not necessarily unrelentingly, or even oppressively, positive. Instead, the sentiments that chime tend towards the ruminative, the thoughtful, the sometimes difficult, the frequently curious and the always thought-provoking.

For words that bring about this sort of stirring effect, @__nitch is brilliant. An Instagram account and a newsletter you can subscribe to, it is dedicated to sharing insights daily from inside the minds of a smattering of great people. Some of them could, of course, be lifted straight from a motivational quotes page (albeit here shown in their actual context); others are contemplative, complex and wise. All are accompanied by beautiful black and white photographs of their authors, making this grid worth a follow even if it’s the photography you’re there for.


Take, for example, this dovetailing pair of quotes. The first is uttered by Ernest Hemingway, pictured here looking magnificent: ‘This looking and not seeing things was a great sin, I thought, and one that was easy to fall into. It was always the beginning of something bad and I thought that we did not deserve to live in the world if we did not see it.’


It’s a sentiment that will resonate for many, whether appropriated today to apply to the climate crisis or otherwise. It is followed a few days later with Bob Dylan, looking young and beautiful, ruminating on Hemingway’s precise ability to say simply as he sees. ‘My hang-up was that I used to try to define beauty. Now I take it as it is, however it is. That’s why I like Hemingway. I don’t read much. Usually I read what people put in my hands. But I do read Hemingway. He didn’t have to use adjectives. He didn’t really have to define what he was saying. He just said it. I can’t do that yet, but that’s what I want to be able to do.’


And then there are the quotes which, distilled, could make motivational memes in themselves, and yet in their full context, are far more powerful than that. This, by Henry Miller, is one such: ‘From the little reading I had done I had observed that the men who were most in life, who were moulding life, who were life itself, ate little, slept little, owned little or nothing. They had no illusions about duty, or the perpetuation of their kith and kin, or the preservation of the State. They were interested in truth and in truth alone. They recognized only one kind of activity...creation.’


Crucially, there is nothing stock about these positions. They are not posted with the intention to inspire, although they may do so; they are shared instead to provoke thought and to share ideas, led by those who have articulated some piece of considered profundity, whether deep, pithy, humorous or grave. Their unifying theme, if there must be one, is humanity: attempts to understand it; as well as observations of it. None, to us, seems more moving than this video footage of Maya Angelou, weighted down by sadness and cruelty, and laden with resilience, grit and humanity as she speaks these devastating words.


‘The white men and women could look at you with such loathing that you really wish...that you could dry up, in the moment, just shrivel up like that. And instead of that I’d put my head up and walk through, grit my teeth, survive it. But my god, what scars does that leave on somebody? I don’t even dare examine it myself. And when I reach for the pen...to write, I have to scrape it across those scars, to sharpen that point. And yet, I still have never, yet, really gone down to look at those scars. I just think I might dissolve.’ Every word is, of course, inspirational, precisely because it is not flippantly uttered, but communicated with the deepest reserves of feeling.

For these poignant, often funny and frequently wise utterances: @_nitch, you’re our hero.

By Nancy Alsop
October 2020

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