Thought Catalog
April 18, 2014

Why I Hate The Phrase “Don’t Cry Because It’s Over, Smile Because It Happened.”

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What is the issue?

I used to keep a growing list of phrases I couldn’t stand. It probably started when I was sixteen. A faint memory of the words, “everything happens for a reason,”washed over my adolescent body at my father’s memorial service. And for the next several months, I wanted to punch anyone in the face who dared to say that to me. I could rationally understand this was something said from a good place, but my tiny fists still clenched each time. After, I started to keep track of other phrases that caused my blood pressure to rise a little. Overhyped Marilyn Monroe quotes always found a cozy spot towards the front, along with Pinterest-esque sayings like, “sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”I also never liked, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”Uh, yeah, I can. That’s why I bought that slice of cake.

But there’s one saying constantly sprinkled over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. that always rubbed me the wrong way:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

In an idyllic world of complete emotion control, this might be sound advice. But truth be told, I’m still trying to find out how to do that. It doesn’t matter how often I tell myself nobody has the power to make me feel a certain way, except me. I can flip through my psychology textbooks, I can search for the answers on how to not feel like shit. I can tell myself to smile. I can even walk around with that smile.

But sometimes, it’s okay to just feel like shit. It’s okay to allow yourself to cry, to feel sorrow for whatever person, place, thing has momentarily crawled into your skin. It’s okay to grieve just as much as it’s okay to smile. You are the only person to set the boundaries of how to feel and when to feel. Do not let someone tell you when and how to let go. You are the one who must let go. You make the rules. Don’t forget that.

Eventually, your sun will shine again. The shattered pieces of your heart won’t seem quite as scary to touch. You’ll start to pick yourself up, little by little. Do not listen when your friend says to use tape. Do not listen when that girl you barely know from class tells you to make a quilt out of your fragmented existence. You will do what you need to do, just trust yourself.

You might find some glue in the bottom of your desk. Spread all of the broken glass out in front of you. Look at it, cry if you feel like crying. Smile if you feel like smiling. Slowly, glue yourself back together. You have just made the most beautiful mosaic. You are different now, but you shine from different angles. You reflect a new image of strength. But it’s still okay to cry. TC Mark