DISCLAIMER: I hate the phrase ‘get a life’. When this phrase is directed at you, it inherently states that the way you chose to live your life is not good enough and you should instantly conform to living the same life as the person who said this to you.
Generally, the times that I have had this phrase directed at me have been when someone is trying to criticise me for being an introvert. They use ‘get a life’ as a code for ‘act more like me and be extroverted because you know that would make you happy’. This is so frustrating. Why on Earth should I subvert my nature to comfort other people that I ‘have a life’? Newsflash, we all have lives, it’s just that I might prefer to stay in of an evening and read a book rather than go out partying with you, and that shouldn’t mean that one of us is seen as better than the other.
The experiences which made me want to write about this both happened last week:
Firstly, I was walking back to my room from a lecture and two girls were walking in front of me. They were openly moaning about a flatmate of theirs to each other. They were discussing how weird she was because she didn’t go out partying much. Their general consensus on her character was that they did not like her much because sometimes she would refuse to go out with them even if everyone else in the flat was going. Due to that, they decided that she didn’t ‘have a life’.
Secondly, when I went to see my University mentor she said that she was worried that I do not ‘have a life’. Now, I can see where her concern was coming from; I am reluctant to engage in University life too much and I struggle with attending lectures where there are big crowds of people etc. However, in my experience, saying that someone doesn’t have a life has always come from a place where that person who is saying it wants to hurt you and they put a negative intent behind the words. So, coming from someone who is supposed to be helping and encouraging me, those words felt like a slap in the face.
Essentially, what I want to say is that if you are concerned about someone and think that they are living their life in an unhealthy way, approach them with understanding and don’t tell them something that is as unhelpful as ‘get a life’ because what the hell does that even mean? Next time that phrase raises to pour out of your mouth, think twice about the negative connotations behind those words and how much harm they can do.