5 Statements That Have Become Clichés, And What They Actually Mean


We have all had, for lack of better words, a relatively shitty experience. Some more than others, and others, more recently than some. One thing seems to remain constant, when something bad happens to us, it seems that out of the wood work, comes the clichés from our friends, coworkers, and loved ones. Little quips, which seem to be things someone should say to someone who has had a bit of misfortune.

Not unlike the hallmark cards we see lining the aisles of various drug stores and gift boutiques, these statements are meant to convey a sentiment, without making the one who has given it have to really think about your situation. It’s a cookie cutter response, a facsimile from the soul, a piece of emotional candy, sweet tasting, but devoid of substance. Here are some of the clichés which I would go so far as to say we have all heard, chirped from someone who was trying to empathize, and what they really mean by them.

1. “Its always darkest just before dawn.”

This one, often thrown out like the buoy of hope to someone who believes they find themselves in dire straits, is one I have heard numerous times. One of the first things that jumps out to me about this one, is, it isn’t always true. It depends on the cycle of the moon and topography of the land where you are, but sometimes midnight can in fact be the darkest point of the night. But that point is for Dwight Schrute to make. What I think is being said here, is how you never know when things can turn around. It happens in an instant. There are countless stories of people, in the worst conditions of their lives, whom one fell swoop of luck or happenstance changed their lives forever. One need only look into the humble beginnings of Sylvester Stallone, and the selling of his dog, to his reclaiming of his dog using the money from his first major sold script, a little movie which goes by the name of Rocky.

Or J.K. Rowling, who was impoverished, and rejected, before selling her book, which to date has her at the 12th wealthiest woman in the UK. For these individuals, perhaps it was truly darkest just before dawn. And the same can be true for us. When something has really gotten you down, and it seems that there is no way out, the most important thing for us is to remember that at anytime, things can change. Often, we have some idea of what better looks like, but we cannot do the artist of true life justice. What can happen to us, how drastically our situations can change, can often not be imagined when we are in the darkness. We don’t know when our dawn will come, but we can only be sure it will not come for us, if we lose hope.

2. “Your too good for him/her anyway.”

This one is a bit tricky. Especially because, in certain instances, it can be absolutely true. To a degree. This statement takes on a bunch of different faces, sometimes its “They didn’t deserve you” or “You can do so much better” but the underlying effect of them, is they breed resentment. A wise individual once said, “Resentment is like taking poison, in hopes it will affect the other person.” And this is especially true when it comes to past relationships. I believe that this feeling, of how bad that ex was for you, and making them a vituperated subject of your inner circle, is part of the break up process in some cases. But that goes to serve the point, it is just a part of it, and ideally, a brief one. So while your friends may go on to say this, let them, but don’t dwell on it.

It is meant to say, don’t devalue yourself to the point of where you feel like you are less of a person because this relationship ended, even though it may feel that way. Realize, that while it ended, it was because you two weren’t right for each other, at that time. Getting on a pedestal and passing judgement on people, anyone, is a dangerous game. Let the relationship end, and keep only lessons. Holding the spite and anger and resentment, is only going to wilt you, and detract from you ability to be receptive to someone new, perhaps the right person. Keep things in perspective, and remember we are all people.

3. “If I were you…”

This one is also probably really well intentioned. But I think it loses some of its power in that it is overused. Its meant to convey empathy. Its from the family of “Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.” Truth is, no one can be you. So while someone can advise you, and throw around how if they were you, they would do something, wonder. Wonder if that person is genuinely giving you advice they themselves would follow, or if its just a glib response, an uniformed attempt at providing guidance down a road which the person has never been around. This applies especially to legal trouble.

If you are facing a divorce, and unless your friend is a lawyer, or divorcee themselves, take whatever ‘Break room lawyer’ counsel they freely offer with a grain of salt. If the person hasn’t been through it themselves, literally, because their friend who went through it, doesn’t count, then be wary of the advice, and cross check it with a reputable source. No one can say what they would do if they were you, because they never will be. They can say what they would do if your situation were placed on them, and if they have personal experience in the matter, I would listen. At least it’s a viewpoint from the shores you would currently find yourself on.

4. “To be honest….”

This one has always been a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It is laden with implications. The foremost being, that you are not generally honest all of the time. To such an extent in fact, that you must preface the rare showing of honesty, by declaring it. This is probably said so often without even being realized. I think it is because what people are trying to say is something along of the lines of, what they are about to say is potentially going to be uncomfortable, or a bit surreptitious, and a degree of gravity needs to be conveyed.

This is particularly irksome when its used right before you convey something to someone that you know they aren’t going to be glad to hear. Just say it. Think about it, if you eliminated the to be honest phrase from use, think of one instance where it would be applicable or fitting unless you were genuinely trying to mislead of obfuscate something to someone the majority of the time. Where would it ethically be necessary to declare your practice of honesty in such a way?

5. “Shit Happens…”

This one, I am actually a fan of. It comes from the philosophical tree of, “It is what it is.” and “Life goes on.” I have been a fan of these since long before my infatuation with The Big Lebowski, but it is not, as it often is, incorrectly, meant to construe not caring. If there is one thing that I have seen run rampant during my time in the service, it was people who didn’t give a fuck. In fact, “I don’t give a fuck.” Was in the running for the way in which the expletive was used most often. This was an apathy born expression. People simply did not care, not about the organization at least, because they had accepted that the organization didn’t care about them, at least how they saw it.

This is not the version of “Screw it.” “Shit Happens.” Or other Dudist quips of which I am a fan. Not giving a fuck is not dropping down to the lowest level of apathy. It is not simply, not caring. Not giving a fuck, is when the shit really hits the fan. When things get really bad, unfair, and existing an extremely negative environment, but keeping ones cool. When entropy has taken hold of an environment, but one is able to navigate it, able to coast through, with a cool, collected disposition.

Not giving a fuck to the fuckery of the moment, to abide, and endure, to not give up, and see it through to the end. The next time something crappy happens, don’t give a fuck about the negativity, rather, endure for the resolute knowing that a better time will come. That like all cycles in life, it gets worse, and then will start to get better. Don’t give a fuck about that negativity, knock it off with those negative waves, and abide. You’ll come out that much better afterwards, than if you didn’t. And when people ask how you do it, just respond, with the complexion of a silent professional, that you simply, do not give a fuck.

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