It Is What It Is
I used to hate this saying. I often heard it after I complained about something. What kind of retort is that? It just made me angry. “It is what it is.”
When I was a kid, my home was toilet papered and egged. They wrote “chink” on the driveway. “This happens,” my father said as our family cleaned the mess up. The words stung, like alcohol on an open wound. How could he react in such a weak manner?
And yesterday, my daughter cried. A boy she considers to be a good friend made a racist joke about Asian eyes and dental floss. I was inflamed! But she sat – quiet and still and oh-so-wise, in the puddle of ignorance, stupidity and pain this boy caused. She said, “I want to talk to him and explain why it was hateful and hurtful. He will understand and never do it again. I know he’s a good kid.” As her mother, I could only see red. Someone broke my daughter’s heart and made her question this world (once more), just so he could get laughs.
And I knew. I knew the anger I felt was a false sense of power.Being angry makes you feel energized and ready to mobilize. But anger is fear on steroids.
“It is what it is” is not a rallying cry to be passive. It means,”what you see before you, IS.”
When I was undergoing surgery for breast cancer, these five words were embodied in the doctor’s confident hands, the nurses’ night time vigil and my family and friends’ constant support. This IS the situation and we’re taking care of it right now.
It’s about accepting that which you cannot change. If you can’t change it, your anger and defiance – your energy – are wasted. You continually generate negativity.
In fact, acceptance is the first step to proactivity. Once you accept reality (that which IS, that which you cannot change), you can use your energy and creativity to begin to make steps to exact change. A couple of wise friends of mine often say, “This, too, shall pass.” Everything is impermanent. Accept each season.