“Everything happens for a reason.” You didn’t get into your dream school. That internship didn’t turn into a job. Your boyfriend of 3 years gets up and leaves one day; no explanation, no phone call. Your grandmother dies suddenly. You fall in love unexpectedly. You finally recover from a broken heart.
The good, the bad, and all the sh*t in between. What do we do? Chalk it up to fate.
From a young age, we’re told that everything happens for a reason. Maybe it comes from our mom or a friend as an attempt to console us. After a while it becomes a mantra, a phrase that we repeat when our bad days get worse or we can hardly believe our good luck. Instead of accepting the natural rhythm and fluctuation of life, we can attribute anything to fate.
It’s the explanation and the excuse for everything.
Isn’t it nice that we can blame this all encompassing, unanticipated yet always present force for anything that happens to us? It takes away our responsibility and sense of control. While it’s slightly terrifying to think that fate is guiding our destiny, we almost always welcome it as a sign of where to go next.
But in reality, fate is just a romanticized idea that actually leaves us complacent. Instead of challenging our views or questioning our situations, it’s easier to downplay an outcome as not “meant to be.” On the other hand, serendipitous moments are like happy accidents, as if fate rolled the dice in our favor.
Fate is responsible for your breakup, but then also meeting the love of your life. Hard work didn’t get you that dream job; it was because you were supposed to end up there. It skews our perception of free will and justifies any hardship or sadness. In a sense, we’re all merely fate’s pawns, making seemingly significant decisions that are actually trivial to our overarching density.
Who wants to live like that?
While I do believe in chance meetings and well-timed coincidences, I think we’re far more responsible for the direction of our lives. Sure, bad sh*t happens. But that’s just life. It has nothing to do with fate or a predisposition to bad luck. Sometimes there isn’t a reason for tragedy, just like there isn’t always an explanation for happiness. It just is.
You can thank fate for leading you to your soul mate, or you can trust that like minded people attract one another, and you’ll eventually find love. Without fate’s path, you would have never realized you wanted to be a teacher not a lawyer, or you can appreciate your ability to change your mind and how passions develop over time.
Fate is a comforting idea, but everything that’s beautifully messy and alluringly unpredictable happens outside our comfort zone. Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. Everything happens and we give a reason why it’s significant.
Feature image via Unsplash