Over on Beyond the Rhetoric a while back, I blogged about some common sayings that annoy me. Words matter. For example, it really bugs me when people say something like “it’s my Friday” on a Wednesday. Sorry Irene. Just because you work a non-traditional schedule doesn’t mean you get to rename and redefine the days of the week. If that were the case, as a self-employed freelance writer and professional blogger, every day of the week is both my Monday and my Friday.
And another one of those phrases that really bothers me (but for a completely different reason) is “it is what it is.” You’ve surely heard it. You may have even said it yourself; I know I have. But it bugs me, because it perpetuates this diea that you’re just a helpless and hapless victim. That life is simply something that happens to you and you’re just a passive agent in this whole thing.
That’s simply not the case. You can’t just shrug your shoulders and give up so easily. If you do, you’ll always be playing the role of the victim and you’ll never be able to change your circumstances. Take the reins. Be in control of your own destiny.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone starts out with equal opportunity and equal circumstance. Some people definitely start with a leg up on everyone else and some people come from a much more challenging situation. It’s not fair. Life isn’t fair. But that doesn’t mean that you should just shrug your shoulders with a defeatist attitude and say, “But what are you going to do about it?”
Because that’s exactly the thing. What *are* you going to do about it? That’s really the key question here, as it helps to illustrate the difference between fault and responsibility. It might not be your fault that you grew up in a less than desirable neighborhood. It’s not your fault that you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth. But it is now your responsibility, as a full-fledged adult, to do something about it.
Recognize what you can control and focus on that. Here’s an excellent example.
I have practically zero nautical knowledge whatsoever. If I were to accept the defeatist attitude of “it is what it is” or “what are you going to do about it,” I would simply accept my ignorance and assume that I would never know anything about boats or sailing ever. Of course, we all recognize that this is silly. I could read books, I could take a course, I could watch YouTube videos… there are plenty of opportunities to learn.
Taking it one step further, I think we can all agree that as a human being, I have no control over where the wind blows. Does that mean I have no control over which way the ship sails? Again, of course not. I don’t know the specifics of how this works (if you do know, enlighten me in the comments below), but you do have the ability to set and adjust your sails in whatever way you’d like.
In this way, while you cannot control the wind, you can control (to some extent) where you want your sailboat to go. If we were always at the complete and utter mercy of the wind, all those ships over the years would have never been able to go to where they wanted to go. Columbus would have never made his way over to North America and I probably wouldn’t be here typing these words.
If you ever catch yourself in a “what are you going to do about it?” line of thinking, take that question literally. It may or may not be your fault that Google slammed your site into oblivion. Now, it’s your responsibility to pick up the pieces and try again.