Why “You Got This!” Feels Like A Threat

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“Once again, dear friend, I have a mighty problem that needs solving, and I don’t know whether I’m capable enough to fix things.”

Back comes the cry: “No worries! You got this!”

At which point my innards seize up as my internal monologue takes over: But I just told you I DON’T have this. I wouldn’t have brought this up as a concern unless failure was a very real possibility. I’m standing on the edge of my competence and peering into the black void of letting people down.

Except that you clearly think that I AM this capable. Which means that if I screw this up, I will now not only have fucked up in the ORIGINAL way, but I will now have let you down as well.

Whoah. That’s pressure.

I mean, I guess it would be nice to be seen as this Godlike, ineffable being who can surpass problems with mere willpower if I WAS that person – but I’m this easily-overwhelmable, forgetful, short-sighted and occasionally flat-out thoughtless creature who crawls out of his own wreckage on a regular basis. If you’re friends with me because I “got” things, then are we really friends? Or just strangers floating by on some awkward delusion?

And now, I have to figure out whether my bond with these you-got-this people is strong enough to sustain a correction. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I just have to nod and go, ‘Yeah, I guess I got this’ and hope to hell I can either gottenate or bury my failures deep enough that they don’t see the stinkingly fallible human being deep inside. But with this person…



“Listen, To me, ‘you got this’ feels like you’re saying ‘I’ll leave your ass if you fail at anything.’ Can you try something else instead?”

“Like what?”

“I dunno – how about, ‘I’ll still love you even if everything collapses’? Is that true?”

“Oh. Yeah. My friendship with you is not contingent upon success.”

“Thanks, friend. That’s what I need to hear right now.”


  1. Papa Fargo
    Sep 5, 2019

    I am going to rant for a moment so if you don’t have the energy for a related rant (which is not aimed at you at all) please feel free to skip and go about your day.

    The ones I want to rip apart are when you (general “you” but also specific “you”) say “and please do not say “you’ve got this” because I don’t” and they still come back with it. Still!

    Oh. I want to go rip their doors down and throw my wheelchair at them. Every time. Whether it’s for me or someone else.

    I can almost (almost) see why someone would think it’s okay to say “you’ve got this” when a person says “I don’t have this” because they think they’re being supportive. I’m with you 100% on your essay here even if I had to learn it through a patient and loving friend who walked me through it in the middle of their crisis a decade or so ago but I can see why someone thinks they’re being supportive.

    But when someone tells you specifically how not to support them, DON’T FUCKING DO THE THING.

  2. twilytgardnfaery
    Sep 5, 2019

    I know SO many people dancing around this very conversation right now. Point quite well made.

  3. Dawn
    Sep 5, 2019

    This would never have occurred to me. Thank you for writing it! And FWIW, my love and respect for you are in no way contingent upon you succeeding at every single thing, or even at the majority of the things.

  4. Raven Black
    Sep 7, 2019

    And I’m probably annoying to the converse group of people, because my support tends to take a form more like “well you don’t really have to do it if you don’t want to.”

  5. Anonymous Alex
    Sep 15, 2019

    It seems to me that “You got this” is only proper if punctuated by a colon. Constructs like “You got this: it’s just like X, Y, and Z that you’ve handled adroitly before,” or “You got this: here’s how I’m going to help you do it” seem helpful.

    Punctuating with a period (or, worse yet, an exclamation point) is, as you point out, dismissive of your stated concerns and generally counterproductive.

    (A little late to the party due to technical issues, but what the heck.)

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