Aina häviää.

-- Traditional Finnish proverb

The traditional form, as repeated by parents and teachers around the globe, is Aina ei voi voittaa, "You can't always win". But the Finns have succeeded in stripping out all the unnecessary fluff and distilling it into a nugget of nearly Zen-like wisdom: "You always lose."

At first sight, the sentiment seems depressing, and to some extent it is -- which is also why it suits the generally melancholy character of the Finnish people. But the real meaning (and normal usage) is closer to "You can't have your cake and eat it too": the inevitable consequence of making any choice is the loss of the other alternative. Every victory entails a loss, and this is not necessarily regrettable, it is just an immutable law of nature.

The other common interpretation is as an equivalent of "Shit happens".

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