I have always been a firm believer in the powers of the universe. Most of my ability to see the positivity in a situation is attributed to my “everything happens for a reason” disposition, and I hope to forever embrace that.
However, more recently, I’ve been faced with wondering how much of our fate is really in the hands of a higher power or right within our own. A few months ago, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Jeremy, who raised his eyebrows at me after I said, “Hey, that’s the universe working its magic.” I vividly remember him passionately placing his Old Fashioned on the bar, staring me dead in the face, and asking me to explain to him how I attribute every move I’ve made in my life to anyone but myself.
I was honestly a little taken aback (not in a negative way, I love a person who challenges me) but I couldn’t believe anyone would question the idea that moments, people, relationships, jobs, catastrophes weren’t put into our lives at certain moments to either allow us to grow or change or develop by our own choosing. I gave him the example of a scenario I was experiencing at that moment:
When I moved to New York, I had zero idea how to move through it. I had willingly chosen to pack my bags and take a chance on being enough to earn a consistent living in, what I would argue, one of the most difficult industries to break into. About six weeks in, I happened to ask a friend from college one night in a bar if she had any scenic painting jobs she knew of and she instead presented me with an opportunity to dress an Off-Broadway show. I interviewed with a woman who, despite my incompetency, hired me. She was promptly fired three days into tech and replaced with the man who would go on to offer me my first Broadway contract two years later. If that woman hadn’t hired me, or been a better fit for her own job, I never would have gone on to work on Broadway, and I wouldn’t be where I am today (or would I?). Better than that, asking that question in a bar one night and getting that job dressing an Off-Broadway show sprung me into working with a Stage Manager who recommended me for another show a year later where I met Jeremy, who I wouldn’t be sitting in the bar with three years later to have this conversation about fate and destiny and the big, bold universe. He said, “That wasn’t the universe, that was you.”
He’s not wrong. We make choices in our lives that, in turn, bring us where we need to be, when we need to be there, with who we need to be with. Yet that doesn’t shake my faith in fate. I’m a hopeless romantic. I believe we have soulmates (multiple, in fact. I’ve already met some of them). I believe we have a destination that isn’t always clear, nor what we think it will be. Even still, I’m growing more curious about the idea that we have more control than we give ourselves credit for. If we trust some higher power, are we just waiting for people or lessons or situations to just show up? Is there a mysterious alternative life I could have had where I didn’t ask my friend in the bar that night if she had any job opportunities for me? Would I have ended up exactly where I was supposed to be any way? At what point are we relinquishing control of our own fate?
Either way, I am filled to the brim with faith that the universe has my back (kind of like a trust fall). I’m finding more and more ways to smile and nod at it and acknowledge that, despite how much control I have over my choices, the outcome is all about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people — when it’s right. And I’m trust-falling into the idea that I am right where I’m supposed to be; just with a little more awareness that my choices still carry some of that weight into the fall.
Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course, we would never fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are.
Eventually all the pieces fall into place…until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.