Friday, December 28, 2012

why "you deserve it" makes me mad

"You deserve it".

Does anyone else see and hear this phrase thrown around?

I've been seeing it a lot lately. The conversations go like this (I'm not quoting anyone specific here...):

"We are heading off to (some amazing location) without the kids for a holiday"
"Have a great time- you deserve it"


"Had a great Christmas with the family, got heaps of cool presents."
"How lovely- you deserve it"


"(Childs name) was awarded (blah blah blah)"
"Fantastic! S/He deserves it"

It makes me mad!! 

You see, when I see that phrase "you deserve it" it starts off a train of thought for me that I find difficult to process.  

When we deserve something, by definition it means that we have done something to earn the outcome we have, right? 

So, by extrapolation if we don't get something, we didn't deserve it..... yes? 

Or even, if we get something bad, or difficult or challenging, we did deserve it.

Can I just say, I have not been on a holiday to any location, let alone an amazing one for about 10 years. When we last went on a holiday we took the kids. And I'm wondering what more I have to do in my life to *deserve* a child free holiday like so many other people take every year? We did manage to have a night away child free a few years ago to celebrate a wedding anniversary... which I guess counts. Sort of. 

Also, for the record, we don't really have enough money to be buying heaps of cool presents at Christmas time. And this year we opted out of attending family gatherings for Christmas because of how difficult it is with all the different needs going on in our family right now. Can anyone tell me what we did to deserve all the complications in our family that cause that situation?

To be clear, it's not just my own jealousy that is the problem here- I have an issue with the injustice of this sort of thinking too. What about all the people in the world who don't even get to eat every day, let alone have a house or job? They must look at me and wonder why they don't deserve the good things I have. What did they do to *deserve* that? How about people born with disabilities that rob them of the privilege of movement, or speech, or the ability to maintain social relationships easily? Do they *deserve* that?

Of course I am proud of my kids when they receive awards, but who's to say there wasn't another child who worked equally as hard from within the constraints placed on them, but just didn't quite manage the extra few marks to receive an award too?

I am not saying we shouldn't express happiness for other peoples good fortune. Not at all!! But can we please think about how our words sound to those who didn't "deserve it" before we open our mouths?  So many of us struggle with our everyday realities, and press on with little to no external reward. 

How do you think it feels to hear and see other people awarded, praised, encouraged and told how much they deserve the good things, when your own life is full of struggle and things that seem so harsh and unfair? 

When we say "you deserve it" to someone in relation to something good they have received, we imply that those who don't have it don't deserve it, and that those who have bad things to deal with do deserve those. 

But in reality none of us are any better or more deserving than the rest, really. We all face our own challenges and do our best with them, don't we? 

Perhaps I am over thinking things (again), but I suspect I am not the only one who feels this way. What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear other peoples opinions on this, as it has been bothering me for ages!!   I don't claim to have any solutions or special wisdom on this- I am just struggling with it and looking for some feedback. Feel free to leave a comment!


  1. Exactly. I feel the same way about people who beat the odds at things like, say, cancer for instance. If a child is able to beat it, everyone says the parents wouldnt give up, the child fought with everything s/he had etc. Well, does that mean the people who don't beat it didn't fight? Didnt have the support/love/encouragement?

    This week I had a rough time in general with why my child struggles. Why him? Why us? HE 'deserves' what all of the other kids have, he works every bit as hard, maybe harder.

    I'm glad you wrote this post, and people feel the same as I do. Sometimes I feel very bitter. I try so hard not just enjoy what we have, and what Logan CAN do, but some days its hard.

    1. Yes, it is hard some days. Thanks for commenting. :-)

  2. I totally agree. I think it is a wasted comment. Say something else. I have recently been mad at this being said to me when I got something that i thought everyone should have if they need it, not because i deserve it but because it really makes my life a lot easier and I would like everyone to have it if they needed it. (just came across your blog and really interested in it, thanks for being honest.)

    1. Hi Joanna,
      thanks for your comment. I like the way you think- it would be nice if everyone could have what they need, wouldn't it? Shame it often doesn't work out that way. Can I encourage you to let others know how you feel when they make comments like that to you? If we don't speak up, people often just don't think about things from a different perspective.
      All the best,

  3. I've always interpreted (and meant) "you deserve it" to be purely a statement about the person it's directed to. I usually think other people also deserve those good things, too. But as we know it life, we don't always get everything we deserve. I don't see it as implying that the person who doesn't have the nice vacation or whatever doesn't deserve one at all. I tend to say "you deserve it" when somebody says something that sounds as if they might be feeling guilty about some wonderful thing and I don't want them too.
    Anyway, I'm sorry the comment is hurtful to you, but maybe my perspective will help some.

    1. I agree. I think it goes hand in hand with the consoling "you don't deserve that" when something bad happens. Which similarly is not meant to imply that anyone else DOES deserve it, but pointing out that it wasn't the fault of the person it happened to.