“I want to be happy, and I want to control my fate.”
This is the quote from ‘The Good Wife’ which I’ve talked about over and over, in a variety of contexts.
I generally believe that our futures can be altered by the decisions we make, and that ‘going with the flow’ isn’t necessarily an indication that things are always going to end up the same way regardless of your decisions – instead, it is an active choice to let instincts drive decision-making and assume that the path you’ve chosen just is. I’m an active non-fan of the ‘full-circle’ stories in television because it always catalyses a new existential crisis within me – forcing me, once again, to reassess the power of external factors on the life we lead, and whether any of that control is truly ours to harness.
But this notion of gratitude and exposing myself to individuals who fundamentally believe in a world I don’t has encouraged me to readjust my opinions, and address some of my greatest subconscious biases.
Example: I’m an atheist. From being bored at church when I was younger, to listening to ‘religious’ individuals spout discriminatory content based on their belief in God –any faith I had inherited in the past quickly evaporated before my eyes. I had no reason to believe it – and therefore, I didn’t. I still don’t, but my goal nowadays is to listen to those who are and respect their perspective. What gives me the right to assume I can win an argument purely because I don’t have a faith to consider? And I’m learning. I’m not gonna sit and listen to bigotry as a mask for religion, but what I do want to do is learn how to detach the two issues from each other. From a couple of bad conversations, my entire trust in religious people fractured – and I didn’t even know it yet. But, every single time I found out someone was religious – I lost a little respect. This doesn’t apply to the friends I had made before this subconscious judgment ingrained into me – but the ones where that first impression defined them in my mind. Since then, however, I’ve had to confront the ugly reality that I do judge – when I realised someone I admire happens to have religious beliefs. I don’t want to – and I don’t need to – especially when this person is easily one of the most intriguing people I’ve had the privilege of talking to – no matter how short the conversations were. I’ve learnt from them – the power of strength, of trusting what happens next even if it’s hard, the importance of being 100% who you are and being unapologetic for it (well, I’m learning it – baby steps) – and I didn’t know about their religious affiliations. It didn’t matter. It just took me so long to even realise how much this judgement has defined me.
That was a long tangent I just went on – but it links to the core issue I wanted to discuss. I wanted to talk about the way religion (or even faith in secular terms) can influence one’s belief that they don’t need to control their fate - that the right people in your life will appear when you don’t expect it, whether they’re right because they taught you a hard life lesson or because the connection is meant to last, and those moments are pure fate.
Last night, I was completely emotional - in an entirely good way, as I was overwhelmed with sheer positivity, contentedness and my brain too wired up on a giant dose of sweet comments, the atmosphere of a day focused on ‘stressing less’, and most of all, the pure joy associated with seeing the impact of gratitude and just doing good things for people who 100% deserve it (and I mean this, regardless of whether it comes from me or not).
Today, I started thinking more about the people I was grateful for - and wondered how on earth I met them, and I became acutely aware of the reality that I didn’t really know. I still remember a post written by Louise Pentland (SprinkleofGlitter) about Zoe Sugg (Zoella), where she talked about how there was a obviously a time where Zoella wasn’t in her life, but at this moment, she couldn’t see her life without her - and the time where she wasn’t in her life doesn’t even seem to exist.
I tell myself often I don’t believe in fate - and I’m even more aware the decisions I didn’t make could’ve been made by the other person, but the people I have formed connections with, in any forum came into life without intention. Regardless of whether my decisions impacted their recurring existence in my life, I can’t pinpoint a moment where I just knew they would stick around or that they really mattered to me. Life happened, in all its ups and downs - and they were still there.
And I gotta say, despite all my lack of beliefs in the power of fate - this has to be, right? Maybe there are people you’re just meant to meet, who have the power to change everything...
(P.S. Despite all my rambles about fate, I still think it's important to make the active effort to show the appreciation those people deserve :))