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I’m feeling a little testy on account of stress and annoyance, and was thinking about some of the incredibly unhelpful things some people sometime say to those who are wallowing in AAAARGHH!

1. I always get annoyed out of proportion by people who say “ Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans like it is some sort of big, wise insight. No, it is not. It’s smarmy, smug, obnoxious faux-advice of the “don’t worry be happy” variety and it comes out of a treacly lullabye crooned by an overblown pop-star. Gaaah. Barf.

This is always uttered at the least opportune time, when I’m stressing out over planned events going badly or am trying to plan out something important. Yeah, I get the whole “best laid plans of mice and men” thing, and all, but plans are a big part of some of our lives, not something that gets in the way of living. So fuck you John Lennon, for allowing this platitude into the English Dictionary of unhelpful and trite things to say to people who are stressed out.

2. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Dude, Eleanor Roosevelt, I love ya, but seriously. I mean really. It is singularly unhelpful to be told this when you are feeling inferior. Yeah, I get the whole “whaddya care what they think of you” sentiment – that if you’re secure with what you’ve got going on, you don’t have to rate anybody else’s detractions, but if you’re not already self-assured, being told, “toughen up” doesn’t do you a single goddamn bit of good. If a person has internalized feelings of inferiority, aphorisms, no matter how pithy they may be, are just not very useful.

Basically, telling somebody “buck up little camper,” when they’re having a hard time is the least helpful thing you can do, and it may well make the recipient of your “words of wisdom” want to throw something very heavy at your head. I know that for me, these two platitudes are real hot-button phrases that make me go all ragey, then on top of feeling stressed, anxious, or bummed out, I also feel like smacking somebody.

When I’m venting about worries, that’s all I’m doing. Venting. I’m not looking for validation or advice. I’m just getting it off my chest so I can get on with sorting my shit out. Being given some canned pep talk out of Matt Foley’s Big Loose-leaf Binder Of Winning Advice is the last thing I want.

And since I invoked the ghost of Matt Foley, here’s the famous “living in a van down by the river, eating cheese” sketch for your viewing pleasure.

I feel better. Don’t you?

2 Responses to “Two platitudes that need to die a firey death”

  1. Julie Stark says:

    I love the way you write. Seriously, if you need/want a hand with something, give me a shout.

  2. meetzorp says:

    Thanks for the offer, Julie!

    Most of the stuff I am/was worrying about is just dumb personal administrivia that I am slogging my way through. Stuff piles up sometimes, especially stuff you have to make appointments to achieve.

    I’m getting it all whittled down, though.

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