I’ve heard people throw around the phrase, “It wasn’t meant to be” like it’s the answer to just about everything — from not getting a job to a breakup. It’s the platitude everyone whips up when there’s nothing interesting, deep, or honest to say.
Or, perhaps the person can’t be honest to the person who is breaking his or her bad “it wasn’t meant to be” news. I vehemently hate this cliché phrase for a billion reasons because it’s a bullsh*t cop-out string of words that people use because it’s easy, and most folks don’t want to be the messenger of bad news or hard knocks.
“It wasn’t meant to be” is the biggest loser of all the clichés! Here’s why:
1. It sounds clueless and rude to people who are going through hard times.
People say this phase when they have nothing else to say that could be meaningful. I heard this when I miscarried; I heard this when I announced my divorce.
Folks: find something more empathetic to say. Sure, there aren’t many reasons to explain a random miscarriage or why you got sick and someone else didn’t, but for the love of God, could you try to say something like, “I’m sorry this happened to you and I’m thinking of you,” rather than (oh boy), “It just wasn’t meant to be”?
Those six little words are mini-daggers to someone’s heart when he/she is trying to process a loss, rejection, or some other tragedy. Do your best to get creative and not drop this meaningless cliché all over someone else’s heartache.
2. It allows people to shift blame off of their own bad decisions.
It wasn’t meant to be because, damnit, you weren’t supposed to make this choice in the first place! Let’s be honest here: How many times did you make a stupid choice — like date an unavailable man, slack off at work, or failing to plan ahead — only to NOT be shocked when something didn’t work out for you?
More times than you probably care to admit … and that’s the problem.
We use these six words because sometimes we don’t want to tell ourselves or tell someone else, “Hey, dummy, you shouldn’t have done that to begin with!” So, “It wasn’t meant to be” is a patchwork sentiment we use when we don’t have the balls to face reality.
But we should face reality. Sure, when you’re the person handing out reality checks you’re not exactly Mr. or Mrs. Popular but all my friends who delivered me the hard knocks were the ones I trusted and helped me the most, even though the hard knocks stung for a while.
What helped me the most, however, was when I took a good look in the mirror myself and said, “Laura, that was a dumb idea and you’re not going to get anywhere if you repeat this mistake.”
Swallow your medicine, heal, and don’t repeat the same bad habits from your past. It wasn’t meant to happen because you weren’t supposed to do it, dummy!
3. We create our own destiny with our choices.
Who wants to wake up each morning knowing that his or her life is already pre-determined? It doesn’t matter what you do because “it was or wasn’t meant to be”; therefore, your choices mean diddly.
Obviously, some things in our lives are chosen for us — I will never be tall and I will never have brown eyes but there are things I can choose and paths that I can take to deliver me to where Iwant to be.
When people whip out that phrase, it makes us think: Why don’t we all wander meaninglessly and let life happen to us instead of actively making our own lives?
Sure, “it wasn’t meant to be” is sometimes a nice way of saying, “Hey, sometimes things don’t work out … and that’s OK!” but it also sounds so simplistic as if our lives are already decided. Personally, that takes the thrill out of choice and life.
But at the end of the day, clichés are expressed out of overuse, not intentional harm.
At the end of the day, if someone is going through tough times, try your best to offer an ear, some compassion, and some honesty, especially if the person has brought on some of his or her hardship on all his or her own. No one improves his or her life by believing false truths or repeating the same mistakes.
A little honesty might hurt but later on that person will thank you.