It seems that we often use the phrase, “It is what it is”. My definition of the phrase to mean, “It’s not this and it’s not that; it’s something more subtle that I don’t have a name for, and I’m ok with that”.
In other words, I take it as an indication that I am letting the thing just exist in all its rich uniqueness without having to categorize or analyze it.
How rude of me!
Yes! I am back! Been a long time coming! If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know why I’ve been ‘ghost’ from blogging but I am back and ready to bring my usual darkness to light!
Anyway! Let’s get into the blog!
Every choice we make, every outcome that happens from these choices, every person who comes into our lives, and every person who leaves — all of these elements have a reason. The truth is, no matter how much we try to control our lives, there are things that we simply can’t control. There are several factors that could affect our plans and alter the results we hopefully intended. Things will not always go our way, no matter how much we want them to.
Do they just happen randomly for no purpose at all? Does this mean that everything that happens in the universe is just a lottery of a mathematical algorithm? Furthermore, if everything happens for a reason, then what is the point of our free will and our right to choose?
I say this a lot, “it is what it is” because as a person, I am comfortable with the state of potentiality. The universe is filled with infinite possibilities, simultaneously existing outside the realm of human awareness so I truly believe everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.
As a simple example, in one situation you might interpret a bat as a sporting good and in another situation, you might interpret the same item as a weapon. There may be no objective answer to the question of whether a bat if it is used for cricket/rounders or a weapon; it’s in a state of potentiality that truly depends on the context. This may seem like a simple phenomenon but it has profound implications for how I think and how I conceive of the world we live in. It enables me to continually re-conceptualize things in creative ways.
I think with this mindstate nowadays is why I don’t usually get stressed about things as I used to. I used to feel some type of way if I go to a job interview and I want it (badly) then I don’t get it. But basically, it is what it is. It just wasn’t meant to be! If I move to a woman that I like and she doesn’t feel the same way, I keep it moving, it’s her loss at the end of the day so it is what it is! I just don’t force anything anymore and I certainly not chase nuh woman!
So I was thinking of the increased use of “it is what it is” as an indication that people are increasingly resisting the temptation to force things into categories, to be comfortable with the unknown. So, I had this upbeat interpretation of “it is what it is” that was connected to the acceptance and suggestive of a world full of possibilities. But after talking with a good friend of mine, I realized that there are other interpretations of it. One friend told me that the phrase actually leaves them with a sick feeling. She thinks the phrase indicates resignation, a sense of acceptance that something isn’t up to par. Which struck me as sad, again going back to how people interpret things.
But then I realized: the phrase is itself in a state of potentiality. In some contexts, it can indicate acceptance of complexity and ambiguity. In other contexts, it can indicate the acceptance of limitations. It’s a phrase that may well have yet other shades of meaning, or be evolving new shades of meaning as I write this. It’s not one static thing.
There are times when “it is what it is” could be seen as hurtful and dismissive of one’s feelings. The message may be received as “it’s not going to change, so get over it already. Stop whining. Stop complaining. Shut up and deal with it.” Even if there is some painful truth in that statement, your timing is off. People need time to accept rejection. They need to know you care that they are hurting.
For me, ‘it is what it is’ gives me an instant closure. When certain things don’t go our way, we tend to have regret over them. There’s just a part of ourselves that feels the loss, disappointment, or a sense that we could’ve controlled the outcome better.
Let’s take a break-up for example. It’s natural to feel bitter, betrayed, etc about it at first. In fact, it’s normal to feel a deep loss and shame over the failure of a relationship. But on the other hand, you can choose to use this experience as an opportunity to empower yourself. You can choose to believe that there is a reason why this relationship failed. A reason that you’ll know later on, once the dust settles.
Communication is about what others hear, not about what you say. Hence, if you think you’ve conveyed something good but the other person hears something quite different, it’s time to recognize that “it is what it is” may not be what you think it is. But for me, regardless of how you see and hear it, it is what it is!
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