The phrase “it must be nice” is one of my personal pet peeves. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with the words themselves, but the apparent meaning they often come with drives me nuts.
You know the one.
It must be nice to have a great job. It must be nice to have the money to buy (insert recent purchase here). It must be nice to get to go on vacation. It must be nice to be thin.
It must be nice.
What sets me on edge about those words is the implication that the things that are, in fact, nice to have are gained through luck, genetics, or other factors beyond our control. What’s missing, it seems, is the realization that, somewhere along the line, sacrifices were made in exchange for things that must be nice.
For example, it must be nice to have a great job. However, I imagine it is much less nice to spend years studying and thousands of dollars to acquire a college degree. It is probably also less nice to work relentlessly in entry-level positions, paying dues and sharpening skills. That great job? Is likely more than nice. It is probably the current reward for sacrifices made in the past.
The radical idea of making short term sacrifices for long term gains seems to be less popular with my generation - I was born in 1980 - than it was with my grandparent’s generation. We want it all, and we want it now, and we don’t want understand why we should have to give anything up in exchange for it, either. Worse than not understanding, we seem to completely forget that we have the choice to make a sacrifice, instead settling for the notion that good fortune must be nice. Over there. For them.
I, too, have been guilty of forgetting about the unseen sacrifice from time to time.
It must be nice to be a published author, I think. But I forget about the hours I refuse to spend writing because I’d rather go to the beach, play with the kids, or just hang out in front of the TV. When I remember those hours, I have to admit that as nice as the rewards may seem, I haven’t (yet) been willing to make the required sacrifices. I’ve checked the price tag and decided that I’m just not willing to pay for that prize right now.
When did we stop understanding that making sacrifices isn’t just about giving something up, but about getting something else in return? Was it about the time we forgot that using a credit card wasn’t the same as getting it for free?