"A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire
January 12, 2007 9:41 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend needs a quote of needs 25 words or less to summarize her college experience! Hope me to hope her, Mr. A. Metafilter!

For background, she's come to a larger city from a medium-sized college/state-office town to attend a all-women's liberal arts college and enjoy a classically Romantic undergraduate experience, while double-majoring in History and English. She rides horses (eventing), loves literature of all types, and generally appreciates The Good Life of wine, food, and song while still being a not-so-closeted sci-fi/fantasy nerd. Politically liberal and very conservation-minded, as well.

She's having a lot of trouble in her search for a quote to put in her yearbook - something ranging from witty (think Wilde) to "inspirational" without being too sappy. Not necessarily something that summarizes a college experience, but worth associating with same.
posted by TheNewWazoo to Writing & Language (33 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Argh, too much editing left an erroneous "needs" in there.

Just think of it being important enough that she needs it twice as much as usual!
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:43 AM on January 12, 2007

Best answer: "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers"
- Blanche Du Bois
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:43 AM on January 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

That's not a very big quote.... I know this is too long, but it's an attempt to fit the mood:

"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body..."
-Walt Whitman
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:50 AM on January 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: For what it's worth, she didn't ask me to come here, I came here because I'm not very literary-minded and would like to help her.

btw, cosmicbandito, touché. I lol'd
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:51 AM on January 12, 2007

So long, and thanks for all the fish.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:56 AM on January 12, 2007

Best answer: "Well, you live and learn. At any rate, you live."
-Douglas Adams

"Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts."
-Charles Dickens

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damned fool about it."
-W.C. Fields

"The best way out is always through."
-Robert Frost

Does she have a favorite poet?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:59 AM on January 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "In wilderness is the preservation of the world.” - Henry David Thoreau

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” - Baba Dioum (that's exactly 25, does she get more letters to attribute it?)

"The most violent element in society is ignorance." - Emma Goldman

"Just don't take any class where you have to read BEOWULF.” - Woody Allen
posted by nelleish at 10:00 AM on January 12, 2007

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - William Butler Yeats
posted by amro at 10:02 AM on January 12, 2007

Best answer: Some of my favorites are here.

Since it's a women's college, how about:

"A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
posted by Robert Angelo at 10:12 AM on January 12, 2007

"Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" —Walt Whitman
posted by thinman at 10:17 AM on January 12, 2007

"Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, left, B, A, select, start!"

... or maybe not.

My high school one, which sounds kinda morbid, was "I'd choose to sleep forever if it'd mean I'd never stop dreaming," which is actually a quote from Valkyrie Profile. It just shows what a huge dork I am.

Anyway, some other decent ones follow; they didn't attribute them to authors in this particular yearbook, for whatever reason:
"I always knew I'd look back on my tears with laughter, but I never thought I'd look back on my laughter with tears."

"What I am today is a result of what I did yesterday. What I am tomorrow depends on what I do today."

"In every life there comes a time when that dream you dream becomes that thing you do."

Yeah, my graduating class really wasn't that creative with their quotes.
posted by Verdandi at 10:18 AM on January 12, 2007

To summarize college?

"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places." — Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929.
posted by cribcage at 10:29 AM on January 12, 2007

"He who cannot draw on 3000 years lives from hand to mouth".

"All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try to think them again."

posted by hermitosis at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

“Christ, seven years of college, down the drain.”
“I owe it all to little chocolate donuts.”
“'Over'? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!”
“How often does the train go by?”

Belushi, John.
posted by krautland at 10:41 AM on January 12, 2007

A facetious quote:

"You'll find you spend half your second year shaking off the undesirable friends you made in your first" (from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh).

Two less facetious quotes (both perhaps linked to the first):

- ars longa vita brevis
- et in Arcadia ego
posted by greycap at 10:46 AM on January 12, 2007

"Sometimes the lights all shinin on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip its been."

- The Grateful Dead "Truckin'"

Exactly 25 words, and incredibly typical if she is a stoner from the 70's :)

I admit it, I got the idea from That 70's Show...
Alternatively, use their version "What a long strange trip it's been... in Foreman's basement"

posted by utsutsu at 10:53 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

My education has taught me originality. The average person is destitute of independence of opinion. They're not interested in contriving opinions of their own by study and reflection, but only anxious to find out their neighbor's opinion, and slavishly adopt it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:58 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

attributed to Groucho Marx
posted by mds35 at 11:00 AM on January 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

"when I think back on all the crap I learned in [college], it's a wonder I can think at all."

-Paul Simon
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:23 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

"If it wasn't for my horse..." -Lewis Black
posted by kimota at 11:31 AM on January 12, 2007

"Everyone regrets their yearbook quote."
posted by sonofslim at 12:39 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -- Mark Twain
posted by frogan at 1:28 PM on January 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

"Happiness isn't having what you want, it's wanting what you have." Victor Borge

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." E.M. Forster

"Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song;
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania."
Dorothy Parker

"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it unless it has all been suffering, nothing but suffering." Jane Austen

"On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points." Virginia Woolf

"When I was about 14, I actually thought that if you just listened to something long and hard enough you could figure it out." Sarah Vowell

"The advantage of a classical education is that it enables you to despise the wealth which it prevents you from achieving." Russell Green
posted by onlyconnect at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

As a sci-fi reader and literature lover, I've also been a huge fun a LeGuin. She might be as well.. this basically describes how I feel about college looking back:

All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills; we need guides to show us how. If we don't, our lives get made up for us by other people. - Ursula LeGuin

If she happens to be at Smith, an alum quote might be cool (plus a sort of horse-sound):

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am. - Sylvia Plath
posted by ejaned8 at 2:37 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

"I went to a good school,
and now, when I drink, I drool." - Greg Brosnan

There is a long anecdote to this one. Long story short, the quote was summarized from a long rant by the vocalist of my band and used in the lyrics of one of our songs.
posted by micayetoca at 3:01 PM on January 12, 2007

"Brevity is the soul of lingerie."

-- Dorothy Parker.
posted by gd779 at 3:17 PM on January 12, 2007

"If I had known I would influence so many guitarists, I would have practiced more."

—Ace Frehley
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:32 PM on January 12, 2007

I love that Mark Twain quote =)

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


(Where 'strength which in old days' refers to the strength of ignorance and youth.)
posted by porpoise at 3:35 PM on January 12, 2007

"Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last." -- MLK

But I imagine lots of other people will be using that one.
posted by kindall at 3:50 PM on January 12, 2007

Best answer: I recently read this one from Anais Nin, which I love:

"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

(She could cut it after "relative" or "unevenly," or use just the last two sentences.)
posted by occhiblu at 6:17 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise."
Samuel Johnson: Idler #84 (November 24, 1759)
posted by paulsc at 9:19 PM on January 12, 2007

"Trying is the first step towards failure"
-Homer Simpson
posted by louigi at 2:29 PM on January 13, 2007

"I wasn't born with enough middle fingers"
-- Marilyn Manson
posted by radiosig at 2:54 PM on January 20, 2007

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