Platitudes: Meaningless or Motivating?

Giving it away right up front. Platitudes drive me crazy. Sometimes I (quietly) roll my eyes as I read about everything always working out as intended, always getting what is meant for you, never getting more than you can handle, always being the right time to begin again. 

Social media is full of them and sometimes I try really hard to believe, especially in the ones about starting over in life. As we get older, the life we lived day in and out changes. We have to accept the fact that who we are cannot be tied to a thing. It can’t be our jobs, our friendships, our talents, even our families. They all change.

A therapist once asked me who I was after the school I was a part of closed down. I literally had no idea. Am I a writer? Well, that is something you do, she explained. Who are you apart from what you do? Ummm…what are my options here? 

It has been about eight years since I’ve had a job, and that job consumed every last bit of my life. I was happy to take time to let my body heal from the stress of that job, along with an autoimmune diagnosis, and a lot of life transition.  I needed to breathe. 

It was hard “not doing anything” for so long. But the process helped me be at peace with my value apart from external responsibilities. It’s critical to reach that place if we want to successfully move forward as we get older.

I would keep running across platitudes that claimed age didn’t matter. I had been thinking about getting a part-time job, so I was attracted to these starting over ideas. It’s never too late to begin anew, they touted. Whatever we want, it’s all there for the taking. Yeah, maybe. 

I wanted to work somewhere that was fun and had opportunity to interact with people. The platitudes suggested I might have a chance.

So I clicked on an application to a popular home and garden store in our town, which seemed a perfect place to jump back in.  It required that I attach a resume. Well, that felt overwhelming and I almost closed my computer and quit.

I can do this, I assured myself. Admittedly, my experience had little to do with being a sales associate, but it had everything to do with people. Cover letter? Ok, I can do that too. But I’m telling you…it took some convincing.

The day after I submitted the application, I got a call. Honestly, I was a bit surprised. I thought the platitude might be overstating things just a bit. But, I got a call so what do I know anyway.

My interview is tomorrow and I am looking forward to seeing what happens. The possibility exists that they will say, “Thank you but not at this time.” On the flip side, maybe I’ll get that job.

The difference between a platitude and truth is whether or not they have application in life. I will have to let you know if those platitudes work. By definition, platitudes  are trite,  over used, and often meaningless. Probably just a placebo at best. 

I’m teetering on the line between belief and doubt. It’s just a sales position, but it feels bigger than that. It feels like risk.

“What if I fail? Oh but darling, what if you fly?”

There’s a platitude for everything:)

When Transitions Choose Us

As any woman who has birthed a child can attest, the transition part of labor is excruciating. Although it is generally the shortest stage, that offers little comfort in the midst. While we are screaming for it to end, those around us are assuring us that it is accomplishing great things. The baby will be birthed through this pain. 

One doesn’t need to give birth to experience transition, though. We all experience times of intense change, either by choice or by circumstance. Like waves, ebbing and flowing in and out of our lives, they sometimes feel like they’re taking us under.

Even the most celebratory changes—like getting married or becoming a parent—include big changes. We leave roommates, parents, cities, the single life, or the carefree married life. To embrace something new, we often have to leave old things behind. 


As we get older, transitions choose us more often than the other way around, and we leave things behind that weren’t our choice. We don’t always like it. Transitions often involve pain, but they are also necessary to birth a new thing. Whether we wanted that new thing or not. 

If our lives were just about us, it maybe wouldn’t matter all that much how we responded. But people who make a difference in this world don’t spend much time complaining about life. So how do we get through the sometimes painful transition seasons in life? 


I’m not talking lofty and complicated here. It could be simply believing that love is stronger than anything that comes against it. Or that kindness always counts. Or that seemingly crushed plans are not the final word. This past season required me to cling to the idea that good days were ahead. Some days I would get with a friend for a walk or coffee. Some days I would light a candle and declare that light is stronger than darkness. Some days I picked up an inspirational book. Some days I just prayed for grace and trusted tomorrow was a new day.


Because it really is a choice. That doesn’t mean we are always chirpy or that we never want to give up. It might mean that we enlist help, either professionally or with those close to us. I really did “get by with a little help from my friends” during this past season. Some days all we can do is declare, “I can’t see it right now. But if I stay in the game today, I win.” Better days lie ahead.


It helps to have a core belief that pain is a teacher and every challenge is an opportunity to grow in ways we wouldn’t have sought out voluntarily. I am definitely walking down paths that never would have appeared prior to all the changes. There is often fear attached with the kinds of changes we face as we grow older. Maybe we’re alone now, or we’re dealing with a health issue, or we find ourselves without a job. But if we can remember that something new is being birthed through this process, we can better tolerate the pain of getting there.  

The transition stage doesn’t define the birthing process—the new life does. I am 5’2” and weigh about 100 lbs, but five babies were delivered through this small frame. We are so much stronger than we think. If we are in a lot of pain, we remember that transitions are producing something, and they won’t last forever. There is new life on the other side. 

“Often what alarms us as an ending can in fact be the opening of a new journey–a new beginning that we could never have anticipated; one that engages forgotten parts of the heart.”

John O’ Donohue