15 Cliches That Come In Clutch

We grow up rolling our eyes at cliches passed down from previous generations. In my ever fading youth, my eyes have rolled so far back into my head I swear I’ve pulled an optic muscle. And it’s only by getting older myself that I’m now starting to understand the wisdom in all those sayings I used to dread. Recently, I had a conversation with an amazing twenty-something girl. She is so much more “together” than I ever was at 25, but when she spoke, I felt like I was listening to myself from 5 years ago - worried, uncertain, and anxious. I felt like someone’s ghost of Christmas future, except in a good way - not in the fiery coffin way. I felt like I was seeing myself through the eyes of some of my friends and mentors who are five years older than me: still unnecessarily worried, uncertain, anxious...but way less than five years ago. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we share wisdom to people who don’t have the frame of reference to hear it. I have been wondering about all the people who sometimes read these, that aren’t necessarily ready to hear what I have to say - namely, because I used to be one of those people. So, before I launch into my curated list of cliches passed on down the ages, I want to preface it with why I think it’s important to read them - really read them, and not just gloss over them as your eyes roll into the backs of your heads.

Cliches exists for a reason. Humans, as different as we are on the surface, all basically care about the same things, and have cared about the same things over time. No matter what generation you grew up in - there was always work to be done, friendships to be had, people to influence, and people to love. The only thing that’s changed are the actors, dialogue and costume design. Cliches exist because they stand the test of time - otherwise they would have died with a generation. We hold onto them generation after generation because deep down in our gut, something rings true. We understand them intuitively, and that feeling only grows with age and more experience (or as TED Talkers are now calling “data points”). They are life hacks before #lifehacks. So, without further ado, I’ll let these bad boys speak for themselves (with only minor commentary).

(15) History Repeats Itself

Not only in politics, but in our personal lives. If we don’t look at our own history, we are slaves to repeat destructive patterns that set us back.


(14) Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Things are only here, right now in the present moment for a short time, and then they are gone. Appreciate the good times like the best damn cup of coffee you’ve had yet. Know that the not-so-good times are only temporary (and lead to more good times).


(13) Lie With Dogs and You’ll Catch Fleas

I’m borderline offended by this one because you know I love a dog, and certainly will lie with all of them - fleas be damned. But in essence, you are the sum of the people you choose to spend your time with. Choose your friends like your choosing your next life.


(12) You Must Crawl Before You Walk (And Walk Before You Run)

Like, duh. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember we aren’t born experts. Human babies are the only animal that will immediately die if left on it’s own in the wild. Bones needs to harden and muscles need to strengthen before a child can become anything. This suggests something extraordinary about human beings - that we are inherently mutable from the get go. We are flexible, fluid, shapeshifters, learners, and have the power to transform ourselves over and over again by the process of incubation and manifestation. We expect so much out of ourselves and get discouraged when something is taking too long to develop/manifest/whatever. Knowing that whatever you choose to do is going to take time helps manage expectation. And whatever you put time and attention into improving is going to get better by principle.


(11) Variety Is The Spice of Life

When I was in anthro class in uni, one of my favourite takeaways was something I read about forests. Diverse forests with lots of plant species survive longer, and are more pleasing to the eye and senses. They survive because when a disease attacks one species, the other plants remain. That is a healthy ecosystem. Diversifying your interests and relationships, experiencing new things, and living many different lives sounds a lot more interesting than being really good at only one thing, relying on a closed group of like minded people, staying in your comfort zone, and being the same person today that you were 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago.


(10) Time Heals All Wounds

We tend to cuts and bruises after accidents, but we ignore emotional traumas. You can see when a cut heals and a bruise fades, and if you really do give yourself time (like literally 30 seconds) you can also feel when you are ready to ‘get back out there’. It feels like calm. It doesn’t feel like, ‘oh my god what’s wrong with me, why is this happening, why is this taking so long, I need to do something about this to fix this’. No person that was ready for something ever sounded like that hot mess. The best gift you can give yourself is permission to take as much time as you need.


(9) Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Invest in you. If you want something, go get it. Don’t talk about it, just start doing it. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to prove ourselves right. We procrastinate and resist to protect ourselves from judgement. Start investing in your crazy wild endeavors because your fear is telling you it’s important and the stakes are high. If it doesn’t work out, you end up exactly where you started having learned what doesn’t work. If it does work out...you about to get paid out like a Bitcoin daddy.


(8) Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Sort of the same as above, but to reiterate: if you don’t try something, anything - you stay the same. That’s comfortable and not so bad if you can accept it for what it is. But if you feel you are here for a reason, a purpose, to achieve more, then consistently choosing to play it safe is going to feel more like a prison over time. What’s worse, you’ll have to accept that you’re your own warden.


(7) Justice Is Blind

I like this one, and for reasons that have nothing to do with the law. To me, it means that everyone is equal. Anything can happen to anyone. You get whatever happens to you, and you can gripe about how ‘unfair’ it is, or you can sort it out and work to make the situation better for yourself and others?


(6) Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’re Hatched

Keep working until all is said and done. Stop having expectations of a certain result that hasn’t even occured yet. Make sure you’re doing all you can do in the present moment to ensure the result you want, and you’ll know that even if you don’t get all the eggs you wanted in the end, there was nothing you could have done differently.


(5) Don’t Hold Your Breath

Literally, don’t. If I’ve learned anything this year it’s all about circulation. Circulation is about creating space so that blockages are less likely to occur. Breathing encourages the physical circulation of blood, and on another level encourages the circulation of your thoughts. That’s why after a few moments of deep breathing you can suddenly feel so clear-headed. Metaphorically, don’t hold your breath waiting for a decision to be made. Keep things moving along. Make the decision yourself, or find something else to do (while breathing).


(4) You Can Take A Horse To Water, But You Can’t Make Him Drink It

Sort of like what I’m doing now, you can show someone all the great things you’re learning, but you can’t make them receive it. You can show someone the best, most loving side of you but you can’t make them love you. You can try to help someone with all the best intentions, but people change on their own timelines. Best thing you can do for yourself is basically relinquish the illusion of control and go fishing. Stand there, cast out a line, a lure, and wait until they come to you for guidance, for love, for whatever you’re offering.


(3) Haste Makes Waste

Rushing leads to mistakes which leads to re-work and wasted energy. No bueno in general. I’m certainly the most impatient person I know, so I hate this one, but recognize how important it is. Whenever I try to speed things up, things fall apart. Whenever I take my time and build a good foundation, I succeed and make less mistakes doing so. Data points. I get it, I get it - alright, already.


(2) Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed

If you don’t ask for what you want, how can you expect to receive it? Say it out loud, write it down, ask your boss, ask your partner, etc, etc, etc. Don’t expect people to read your mind - that is an easy way to feel resentment and ruin a good thing. Give people - give the universe - the opportunity to make your wildest dreams come true. And if they can’t deliver, something or someone else will.


(1) Every Mouldy Biscuit Has It’s Vroom Vroom (Stinky) Cheese

Hilarious old saying from Guyana that I grew up groaning at every time my Dad would say it, snickering like he said the funniest thing anyone had ever heard. Basically, it means that there is something and someone for everyone. No matter who you are, what you look like, what you do, there’s a perfect person for you, perfect job for you, perfect place for you. Hold yo mouldy ass tight. Everything that’s coming to you is coming to you.

Arianne Tong1 Comment