“C’est la vie.”

Translated into English, this French proverb means, “That’s life” or “Such is life.” Carolina, who also goes by Coca, says this proverb often. She says it “whenever it needs to be said, whenever someone needs their problem to be put into context. People need to be reminded that it’s not the end of the world, extraordinarily often.”

Her interpretation of the proverb is that it is a “reminder to let go of the little things—it’s only life! Why sweat the small stuff when there’s so much good to focus on?”

The first time she ever heard it- and therefore learned it- was in the 1990s when the B*Witched song “C’est La Vie” played on the radio all the time.

The reason behind Coca telling it and her interpretation of the proverb shows us what her philosophical outlook on life is. She tries to remember the bigger picture when she starts to worry too much about the small things, such as missing a homework assignment, being late for volleyball practice, or getting in a little tiff with her younger brother. She tries to remember that life is precious and one should not waste time worrying too much about small things in life. One should concentrate on life being a journey and life being something much larger than a bad grade on a test.

I agree with Coca’s interpretation of the proverb. Because she says it all the time, I have begun to say it all the time. Whenever a friend tells me about how they are upset because they got a low grade on a homework assignment, I say “C’est la vie,” and remind them that it is not the end of the world and it will not negatively affect success or progress later in life.

I was surprised to hear Coca’s reasoning behind why she says it, and the circumstances in which she says it. I had no idea that she had put that much thought into why she says it. I had no idea that the proverb was a philosophical outlook. Upon further reflection though, I think it is a good one to have.

Proverbs are imbedded in a particular language and culture. This proverb is imbedded in French language and French culture, and has now become part of American culture. Americans now try to use this phrase to remind themselves about the bigger picture in life. It can be hard sometimes in the fast pace, hardball society we live in. Oftentimes, it seems like one failed test is going to affect one in the long-term. It can really feel that way sometimes and can really ruin one’s day. Americans are trying to adopt this proverb to reduce stress and become a slightly more relaxed, easygoing culture.

Annotation: B*Witched (Musical group). B*Witched. [New York]: Epic, 1998.