It Is What It Is


It is what it is.

I’ve always hated that phrase.

In the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy and learned the value and beauty of that sentence, which I’ve hated for so long: it is what it is. It takes away should or what you wish would happen and reminds you that what is actually happening is what is actually happening.

I used to work with a guy who was in charge of the technology platform of the products I managed and if something didn’t work properly or an update didn’t make the release, he’d say, “Well, (insert little tongue click here) it is what it is.”

That sentence used to send me into orbit. It seemed patronizing and like a cop out, but then came therapy and my new appreciation for it.

Play the hand you’re dealt.

It, literally, is what it is.

You may not like it, you may want it to be different, but all that shuffling reality around just delays you in dealing with it. And makes working through it and accepting it so much harder. Trust me.

My oldest daughter is heading off to college in the fall. She’s leaving the house. Moving out. Farewelling herself into the great big world, mostly alone. It feels so exciting and sad and scary and right and confusing. Like, how in the world are we supposed to actively participate in this outlandish and absurd behavior?

We will physically take her away from the place we know she’s safe and drop her in a place where we won’t know that. Our whole entire life with her – every single interaction from the moment we knew she’d been conceived – has been about keeping her safe. And now, well… now we just take her away and hope for the best?

Guys, it doesn’t feel okay.

But these years in therapy have made me come to appreciate that sentiment I once hated with the fiery heat of one thousand sunny, humid August summer days in Columbia:  

It is what it is.

Isn’t that awful? And also, it is wholly, perfectly, and absolutely accurate. It’s the absolute truth.

This is what it is: she has worked her tail off in school for 12 years so she can go to college and begin her own, independent life – not continue the one we’ve been influencing (in various and decreasing degrees) for 18 years. And that’s what she’s doing.

Now, I will say that she’s not going to the school I really want her to. Also, I will say that it doesn’t really matter since it’s not my college experience. She’s going to a great school and will do great things and is making the decision that’s right for her. I know that and absolutely support her decision. I just don’t think she’ll have the experience I wanted her to have. But guess what? It doesn’t really matter since it’s not my college experience, so I need to put my wants (and my ego?) away and let her live her life.

This is exactly how it’s supposed to be and how we all want it to be and what we’ve been working so hard for her whole school career.

The other thing I’m trying to be okay with is a friendship that recently ended. For about six months, I didn’t know why this friend broke up with me, but a mutual friend gave me some insight. I made a comment, and she misinterpreted it. I actually meant it as a compliment to her – it just got lost in translation and she never mentioned it to me.

I can be a lot of things – I can be a complete a*hole, and I know that. But I am not mean-spirited or exclusionary or petty. I’ve been on the receiving end of those too often and I would never do that to someone else – especially not a friend.

The months and months of not knowing why she broke up with me really rattled me (and I mean really rattled me). Even after finding out why, I feel like I’ve only partially recovered from the blow. I don’t know that I have ever felt so unsure of myself and even now still feel insecure in many of my friendships. I feel so needy, like I need constant reassurance. I detest feeling this way at this age. But it is what it is. This is where I am and, thankfully, most of my friends have gone out of their way to show me they love me without making me feel like the burden I surely am right now.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my head ruminating. Which, by the way, is a waste of time. It doesn’t help anything and just keeps you in the whirling dervish of whatever has sent you into the spiral. And it doesn’t change anything.

I wish she hadn’t ended the friendship; I wish she hadn’t put our friends in the middle of this situation, but she did. I wish she had talked to me about how she was feeling, but she didn’t. This is where we are. It is what it is.

Feeling all these feelings has left me a little bit raw and has had me thinking a lot about my friendships – what kind of friends do I want and what kind of friend do I want to be. If I want grace and understanding and patience and mercy and the belief and acceptance that I’m doing the best I can from my friends, I have to be sure I’m extending all that out into the world myself.

If I wish this friend would’ve given me the benefit of the doubt and trusted our friendship enough to know I never would have intentionally hurt her. I have to give my other friends the benefit of the doubt and trust they would never intentionally hurt me.

All this mental and emotional self-awareness work is exhausting, y’all. But don’t worry – this exciting phase of perimenopause wakes me up at 3am regularly so I have lots of extra time to think on it. But that’s another post for another time.

I was talking to an old friend about this, and she told me about the “Let Them” theory from Mel Robbins, who is an author, motivational speaker, former lawyer, and podcast host. (You may know her from her TEDx talk called “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over.”) Her podcast episode (number 70) aired late May 2023 and explains the theory.

In a nutshell: People will do what they want to do, think what they want to think, and behave how they want to behave. Let them.

Detach from what you think people should do or what you wish they would do. We can’t control them and if we try, we’ll end up pretty close to miserable. Trust me on this, too. Let people be themselves. Let them do what they’re going to do – that’s not our problem to fix or correct.

It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but similar to “it is what it is,” it’s a reminder (to me, anyway) to release whatever I’m holding on to that I can’t control. Which, by the way, these days is a lot.

So, if there’s a situation that’s vexing you, maybe tell yourself it is what it is. If there’s a person or group vexing you, let them. Take your deep breaths, play the hand you’re dealt, and focus on what is actually happening. And best of luck to all of us…

Can you relate? Have you had to accept it is what it is?

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Kathy Ferguson
Wildly in love with her perfectly imperfect life, Kathy’s been married to her most favorite person in the world, “The Professor,” for 14 years. They moved to Columbia from Atlanta seven years ago and are enjoying raising their two girls, Gracie (12½) and Tate (10) here. After undergrad and her MBA, Kathy worked in Corporate America for 10 years before retiring to work full-time for the girls. Most recently, she was a grant writer at a college here in town, but had to leave that job when her family moved to New Zealand for six months for The Professor’s sabbatical. She started her blog,, to document that amazing adventure, but now she’s home and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Again. Probably the loudest and most foul-mouthed introvert you’ll ever meet, she can usually be found curled up with a trashy romance novel, on the tennis court, at her awesome gym, or drinking wine with people she loves.


  1. Good read Kathy!! It’s full of wisdom that only come’s with age and life experience. That puts us in the ” Been around the block club”.
    Acceptance seems to be the “Key” to most all my problems. I do not have to like something, I just have to accept that ” it is what it is” at that exact time. Funny how I still sometimes think I can (but can not) control people, places, and things. I guess I’m not in charge, but my ego would beg to differ. Now just having “the courage to change the things I can” seems to be my “go to”. That would be my thoughts, words, and actions. I make amends when I am wrong, and if someone doesn’t accept it, its on them. My side of the street is clean.
    Ps. Can I borrow your chapstick LOL


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