I was asked today, “What is your Motto?” I thought of all kinds of great quotes by great people. “If you can believe, you can achieve.” by Sophie Turner is another one that came to mind. However, my thoughts lingered on the quite overused phrase “It is What it is.”
After reading an article by Liane Gabora Ph.D. entitled, The Hidden Meaning of “It is What It Is”, I began searching for the meaning behind why this phrase would be like a song stuck in my head.
Dr. Gabora suggests that “It is what it is” has more to its meaning than: being somewhere in the middle and not being able to place a word to it. The phrase reiterates a complacency that doesn’t categorize the situation into some form of good or bad but just an acceptance for what is. This suggests a certain comfort; yet, it could be so much more.
First, “It is What it is.” is a way of thinking about the world and environments that we live in. It’s a tool that one can use to conceptualize their situation. By accepting all that facts and not taking sides as to the goodness of the situation, adopting this phrase allows for the situation to not cause harm to oneself or others. It isn’t necessarily what we agree with it or how we would choose things to be; therefore, if we like it or not … It is just what it is.
For example, my son (who is 18, over 6 feet tall) came home from school last week and announced that after an inspection the school is now only allowed to provide one pop tart instead of two. Now if we looked at the facts of the situation and the events that led up to this situation we would understand why my son was told this. However the facts are just that so “It is what it is” All the events lead up to this moment in time and even though the ‘goodness’ of the situation could be debated and even though he wasn’t in agreement with the situation, the phrase calms the aggravation of it all.
Dr. Gabora noted that the use of the phrase of resistance of putting things into categories or that it is an acceptance of ambiguity. In this sense, one could create a richer self and not be stuck in the way things are. If it isn’t that and it isn’t this then we can accept that there isn’t a box for it. This belief would coincide with abstract thinkers and creative minds.
Yet, others feel like the phrase is a “… resignation, a sense of acceptance that something isn’t up to par.” In these cases, “It is what it is” could leave one with a feeling of complacency, sadness, or negative thoughts about the possiblities. One could begin to believe they are stuck and that the situation can’t be changed or reframed.
I think that “It is what it is” is a static phrase that should be used in context. I find that this phrase comes to my mind because I recognize that I am on a path. I am complacent on my journey, that I have come to a place that I didn’t think I would be, on my way to where I want to go (even if I am unsure where that will take me.) The phrase captures not only the lack of progress and dissatisfaction of the current state of my life but also includes the progress and satisfaction of the place that I have arrived at in my life. Therefore, it makes a great life motto as I hope to always be in this journey where the only destination for me is heaven.
Let’s hear your Life Motto …. What does “It is what it is” mean to you?
By Amanda Brumfield
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.