In recent years, I find myself rediscovering the meaning and value trapped behind cliché advice. From ideas like “variety is the spice of life” or “money doesn’t make you happy.” The common thread linking these connecting-of-the-dots moments has been lived experience – usually something negative personally clarifies the cliché advice in my head. Growing up, we all hear conventional wisdom to this effect, but why do we often fail to heed it?
Many of my friends are in full-time work many conversations inevitability to turn a regret of not having made more of their time at university. It is interesting because we always hear almost universally that university is the best time of our lives. You would think that more people would prioritise in maximising the fun out of it. But adding the work and the pressure of securing a stable graduate job afterwards, and for many, our attention is fractured and it is more difficult to enjoy the experience for what it is.
Another potential element of this equation is that we are all inherently stubborn. For example, if a tree branch breaks in the forest with no one around to hear it, does it actually happen? Personal proof, or lived experience, is a more reliable form of currency for many. Oftentimes, this is in spite of swathes of research backing the cliché.
Adjacent to research lies social proof, that is seeing the behaviour demonstrated by the people around us. Mimetic theory would say that this sort of social pressure would con us into believing the cliché as well. Perhaps the issue was the homogeneity in mindsets and lifestyles of the people around me, at least with regards to the approach to university life. Perhaps I just need to be more trusting and have more of a blind faith for clichés – I mean clichés are clichés for a reason.