Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

January 28, 2014 Ka'ela Ja'el
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A few months ago there was a huge internet storm after Maria Kang, self described “FitMom”, posted a photo of herself and her children with the words “What’s Your Excuse?” plastered over it.
Now I know she wasn’t the first person to use that phrase, and she certainly hasn’t been the last. And hats off to her that she can exercise and eat well and raise her kids, and keep her household running and run her business. That’s great.
However, something has bugged me since the furor erupted, and it took me a bit to realise what it was.
I have to say I HATE the phrase “What’s your excuse?” Particularly the use of the word excuse. The term excuse immediately acts to invalidate a genuine reason. And yes, while the phrase may be technically correct, the tone it is offered in is always one of self righteousness – “If I can do it, then you should be able to.” It shows no empathy for others. No understanding or compassion.
I’ve heard colleagues say it: I can do X job and Y job, and all the filing, mopping, broadcasting and rocket building – what’s your excuse?
I’ve heard writers say it: I can work full time, raise a family, run a marathon, cook a gourmet meal and knock out a novel by lunchtime – what’s your excuse?
Because if they can do it then obviously anyone can.
It’s a selfish, arrogant and dismissive thing to say! No one truly knows another persons circumstances. No two people have the exact same circumstances, so what works for one person may be totally ineffective or unsustainable or unobtainable for another. And branding a persons reasons as an “excuse”, belittles those circumstances.
Personally, I think it’s the equivalent of telling a depressed person to “get over it” or “cheer up”. It’s not helpful, it’s harmful. It’s like saying “I broke up with my partner and I’m fine, so what are you moping about?”

ETA: All of the above is addressing the fact that you might actually be striving for the same thing as the person commenting. As Alisa says, “…the other thing that bugged me about it was implication that we want what she/they have.” And THAT is a whole other issue.

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