Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

“Don’t Take It Personally”

And other sayings that make me scream

Rachel Wayne
5 min readAug 15, 2019


I think a lot about human communication. From my academic inquiry into bullying to my obsession to memes to my fascination with languages, I’ve learned one universal truth: people suck at communication. Witness these common sayings that drive me up the wall for their lack of efficacy, tact, or, you know, truthfulness.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

See also: “You make your own destiny” or “God has a plan.”

Who Says It: Your life coach, your pastor, your friend who has the world on a silver platter.

Typical Usage: After you’ve experienced a major setback or traumatic event and you dare to express your displeasure with the situation.

Why It Sucks: They’re meant to be comforting, but these sayings basically take you out of the equation. They also subtly encourage you to be accepting of all the crap that happens to you in the name of “personal growth” yadda yadda. Worse, they ask you to distort trauma to suit a personal agenda.

Yes, you can learn valuable lessons from bad stuff that happens to you, and you should own up to your mistakes, but you should never feel at fault for, say, abuse, assault, theft… the only “reason” those things happen is because someone decided to be an a-hole.

How to Respond: People who say this are (usually) trying to be supportive, so try not to throw that back in their face. Just ask them what the reason is.

“You need to be a team player.”

See also: “No one else feels this way” and “You have an attitude problem.”

Who Says It: Your boss, your well-meaning mother, your know-it-all coworker.

Typical Usage: After you complain that you’re unable to finish your work because someone else on the — ahem—team isn’t finishing theirs, or after you expressed an opinion that someone else didn’t like.

Why It Sucks: Being a team player is good, but condescendingly telling someone else to be a team player is, ironically, not what a team player does. It’s also mild gaslighting, implying that you are the one doing something wrong just because you “rocked the…



Rachel Wayne

Artist/anthropologist/activist writing about art, media, culture, health, science, enterprise, and where they all meet. Join my list: