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It Is What It Is

A cabin in the woods might sound like a scary place to be. Out in the middle of nowhere, with limited cell phone service, and no clear way of getting back to ambient light. In reality, my family’s winter get-away is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Complete with snowmobiles, snowboards, archery bows and arrows, the sweetest wolves around (I’m serious), and apple cider, you cannot really go wrong. The cabin is huge and adorable at the same time, tucked away on the prettiest mountainside just outside of Seattle in Stevens Pass, Washington.


A quick, rocky drive down the windy, mountain road in the F-350 and we are in the town of Leavenworth. Here, hardcore skiers gather around an overpriced cup of coffee and brag about how “hard they shred it up on the mountain today” and how “totally rad it was dude, man so sick.”

In this little town, my cousin and I stumbled upon the cutest shop ever with the best trinkets. Cute clothes, shoes, and artsy napkins had my attention until a long, heavy sign that my cousin was holding caught my eye. He mentioned that it was going to be for the cabin and was his favorite saying in the world. In big black italics, the five simple words written along the board were pretty inspirational, actually.

“It Is What It Is.”  You cannot get much simpler than that, but if you ask me, there are meanings behind meanings behind meanings so, naturally, I analyzed the phrase right down to the nitty gritty, for lack of a better term.

It Is What It Is

1.  Positive: Some things are inevitable, because you just can’t change them regardless of how hard you try. Deciphering what is changeable, and what is not, is the key to this statement.

2.  Negative: In circles of business executives, inspirational speakers, teachers, coaches, and NARPS (non-athletic, regular people) alike, people feel as though this is a cop-out. They believe that, “Well, what’s done is done. That happened so I’m going to move on and forget about it, because nothing can be done or changed.” Wrong, ya’ll, very wrong.

3.  Positive: It is essentially, a way of saying, do not overthink the situation. It is a friendly reminder to keep things simple, hold your cards close to your chest, and be okay when things are not going perfectly.

4.  Both: The phrase makes you sound insightful…for a few minutes.

5.  Negative: It sounds intellectual, it seems obvious. However, it actually implies complete helplessness. Without a solid understanding of how to deal with every life situation, we are out of luck.

6.  Both: Just because “it is what it is,” does not mean all things are inevitable. Some things are, but, for example, brownie batter is what it is (brownie batter) until you bake it. Then it becomes brownies! (See what I did there?)

7.  Positive: It’s a fabulous response to things you don’t necessarily want to answer. Example: “What’s the deal with you and *insert name here*? I know you guys hooked up, but then someone said you were dating, and then somebody else told me that you were breaking up with him/her…what’s the status?” Response: “It is what it is.” The questioner does not have much more left to say.  Example B: Someone at work asks you how your life is going. You, the newly-hired with a less than perfect job, want to make it sound as though you are thrilled to be where you are, although you want to be honest at the same time…so…it is what is. Simply. 

8.  Positive: Describing this phrase in an essay should never be difficult or take as much brain power as I just took to analyze it. The answer to “it is what it is” lies within itself, because, well…

It Is What It Is.

(But is it, though?)


Hannah Drinkall is a Saint Mary’s College contributor to Her Campus Notre Dame.

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Photos provided by the author.


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Hannah Drinkall

Saint Mary's

Hannah graduated Saint Mary's College (May 2016) with a major in Communication Studies & a minor in Public Relations & Advertising. She was the Campus Correspondent of Her Campus Saint Mary's, which she co-founded in December 2013. She's from Florida, and she is now working in New York City with New York Times best selling author, Adriana Trigiani. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter, @hannahdrinkall!
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