If I can do it, anyone can.
Every time I hear this phrase I want to say, “Shut the hell up.”
Of course, my southern roots will not allow for me to be so terribly rude, but it does not change my irritation at the phrase. This single phrase is insulting to everyone, including the person speaking it.
We can start with the insult to “everyone else.”
What the hell makes you an expert on what others are capable of? Are you saying if someone else cannot achieve anything and everything you have, they are not good enough? Not trying hard enough?
Guess what? Maybe they aren’t you. Maybe they do not have the same drive. Maybe they don’t want to put in the work.
OR maybe they don’t have the necessary components which create the aptitude and/or abilities necessary for whatever task you are capable of.
Another person’s body may not work or feel quite like yours.
Another person’s pain threshold may be different.
Someone else may not have the aptitude for understanding that which you have excelled or accomplished.
Beyond the mere physical and mental aspects, not all people have the same resources and lifestyles. It is more difficult for a person who works two or three full time jobs to barely get their family through each week to change their life than it is for a single person with no dependents. A person’s circumstances, whether self-created or not, can affect their actions and reactions to life’s challenges.
There is a beautiful concept often cited in psychology called “individual difference.” No matter how many similarities we have, it does not change the fact that we, and our experiences in the world, are not all the same.
Now, let’s forget about “them” and instead talk about the figurative “you.”
I see this phrase as a form of self-deprecation. Why do you have to demean your own accomplishments? You worked hard to accomplish your goals, and to get where you are. Maybe you had help and encouragement from others, but you are still the person who accomplished this feat. Show appreciation for all of the people who helped you along the way, but also show appreciation to yourself for making it through the journey to get where you are. You worked hard, had the talent, or maybe you had the simple, blind, good luck. Whatever the case, you did this, and you should be proud.
Finally, my biggest problem with this phrase; if it were true, no one would ever fail at anything and everyone would be capable of anything.
“If I can lose my excess weight and get in shape, anyone can.”
“If I can learn another language, anyone can.”
“If I can get a Ph.D., anyone can.”
“If I can climb Mount Everest, anyone can.”
“If I can make it to the Olympics, anyone can.”
And the list goes on. If anyone could do it, then it would not be an accomplishment. If anyone could do it, then we would have no winners or losers, no world records, and no “unskilled workers.”
If you have done something difficult, accept that it is an accomplishment. Accept that you have done something exceptional. Accept that you may actually be capable of something not everyone can do, just as other people may be capable of something you cannot do.
Oh, and let’s not forget the simple fact that they just might not want to. You may think cycling is the greatest thing ever, but it’s just not my cup of tea. Get over it.